Moonlighting with Ai WeiWei
11 November - 29 NovemberNarrative motif and symbolism is core to TANYA CHAITOW's work. These themes are often rendered in a combination of both personal and universally engaged forms and ideas. Moonlighting with Ai WeiWei explores recurrent themes of expressing freedom and tradition. It addresses ideas of the symbolic boundlessness of human connectivity beyond our physical restrictions.
While travelling through Myanmar at the beginning of the year CHAITOW noticed that at the entrance to every temple there were vendors with crowded birdcages. It is the tradition in Myanmar that birds are caught and placed into cages for sale so that they may be released as 'luck birds'. The release of these birds is accompanied with the following prayer:
Today I give you your life; someday you will give me my life.
For CHAITOW, the deprivation of freedom placed on these birds was highly symbolic and led her to examine the work of Chinese artist and political activist Ai WeiWei. In recent times Ai Weiwei has served time in jail for criticizing the Chinese government's stance on democracy, the abuse of human rights and the lack of freedom of expression within China.
CHAITOW's own work draws on the 2013 Moon Project launched by Ai WeiWei and Olafur Eliasson in order to emphasize the global reach and interconnectivity of ideas beyond the limitation of political and geographic boundaries. It used the Internet to travel beyond the physical restrictions placed on him by the current Chinese regime. CHAITOW's paintings and works on paper embrace Ai WeiWei's motif of the moon as representing the universal connectivity of ideas and humanity. She contends that "wherever or whoever we are in the world we look at the same moon [it symbolises] our connectivity beyond the geographic and political limitations". CHAITOW draws upon the moons association with the owl as ruler of the night and seer of souls. The owl has been emblematic through history as a wise, intuitive and mystical creature that keeps the spirits who had passed from one plane to another. It has been connected to humans blurring the distinction between the real and the imagined and bridging the gap between day and night and the conscious and unconscious.
CHAITOW's imagination and emotional resonance ignites these psychological connections. She intuitively captures mental states through poetic works that contemplate the human condition.