Thru 14 April 2012
By Suzanne Mooney
Talbot Gallery and Studios is delighted to have the opportunity to promote Suzanne Mooney's work in this solo exhibition. 'Experiences of Place' provides the viewer with an insight into Mooney's current photographic practice and the research she has undertaken as part of her PhD in Tama Art University, Tokyo.
Currently studying in one of Japan’s urban centres on a Japanese government scholarship, East-Asian traditional culture and landscape provide a wealth of inspiration for Mooney. This exhibition considers the effect that globalisation; technological developments and the environment can have on both landscape and ‘lived space’, and consequently how changes to these factors can in turn affect the way people live their lives.
In March 2011, the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami shook the northeast coastline of Japan, causing almost 16,000 deaths and extensive and severe structural damage. The World Bank has estimated the economic toll for this event to be close to US$243 billion, making it the most expensive natural disaster in world history.
On the one-year anniversary of this catastrophe, Mooney will consider both the northeast coastline; the site of this event and the urban centres of Japan independently, providing a contrasting image of an area of destruction and of urban Japanese architectural achievement. She examines the site of this earthquake, the Tohoku region, and documents what she observes in the town of Kesennuma in a photographic series, 'Remnant Mass'. These post-apocalyptic images reveal the temporary and transient nature of Japanese dwellings and throw the scale and magnitude of the earthquake and tsunami into sharp relief. One cannot help but wonder how and when these buildings will be returned to their former inhabitants and when this former sea-side town will be restored to its natural beauty.
Japanese architecture has withstood many attacks, from both political and natural sources, as such town-planning and architectural design have become integral to the re-structuring of communities and the re-building of lives. Mooney's second photographic series in this exhibition, 'Walking in the City' examines the urban-scapes of Japan's larger cities, in contrast to the impermanence demonstrated in the previous series, these images depict highly-coloured, stylised, permanent, modern structures. Mooney allows a sense of temporality to creep in by placing a single figure in each frame, contrasted in size and scale to the surrounding buildings, this figure provides an insight into the isolation and vastness of urban landscapes.
Mooney deals with this subject matter in a sensitive manner, cognisant of the recent nature of these events and of the trauma of those affected. This exhibition allows for an exchange between the aesthetic of the city and that of the natural environment, Mooney opens up Japanese culture to the uninitiated.