On Photography: Three Gallery Shows
RongRong & inri at Chambers Fine Art, plus group shows at Laurence Miller and Pace/MacGill galleries
By WILLIAM MEYERS
Aug. 5, 2016
Tsumari Story: RongRong & inri Chambers Fine Art
522 W. 19th St.
Through Aug. 20
RongRong was born in China in 1968 and inri in Japan in 1973. They had independent careers until 2000, when they began working together in Beijing; in 2012 they moved with their three boys to Niigata Prefecture, the most snow-bound region of Japan, to participate in the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale. The 15 medium- and large-format black-and-white images at Chambers explore the couple’s relationship with each other and with their children, as well as the urban family’s relationship with nature.
The work echoes the artistic traditions of RongRong’s and inri’s heritages, most dramatically in “Tsumari Story No.15-4” (all cited pictures are dated 2012). This inkjet image is printed on a rice-paper scroll 2783⁄4 by 391⁄4 inches, so long it had to be hung as a hammock between two walls; the whole is patterned with what appear to be flecks of light reflected on water, the naked bodies of the two artists are somewhat fragmented, and in places the print is tinted chrome yellow.
Inri is seen dimly in “No. 2-3,” wrapped in a kimono in a landscape dominated by mounds of snow. In “No. 2-28” she lies with bare feet on a snow-covered field. The three boys and their mother are naked but facing away from the camera in “No.12-4,” posed between an indoor bathing pool and the woods outdoors. “No. 1-1” and “No. 1-2” were shot in the same interior, first with inri and then RongRong kneeling respectfully toward the empty space where, in the other photograph, the other appears.