'Fall #9' by Ni Rong. Courtesy of the artist and dnj Gallery.

‘Awareness’ w/ Ni Rong, Janna Ireland, and Robert von Sternberg @ dnj Gallery

November 9, 2019

Dnj gallery’s latest opening, Awareness, presents a humanist expression within our general lens of being social creatures. Yet the beauty of photography, and with the works exhibited, is in the ability to uncloak the world of appearances, of how our minds perceive civilization preternaturally, to reveal the iridescence of an uninterruptible beauty which is the propriety of Nature.

Ni Rong, for instance, exhibits an inviting challenge and examination of the communion of East meets West. We may intuitively perceive that the landscapes in her compositions are Asiatic; but it is precisely this conjunction of her affirmation of an Eastern identity amidst the universal beauty of nature found in Maine which gives us pause. The tension Ms. Rong experienced anew from being in virtual isolation as a Chinese American provides us refreshing insight in the Ancient Chinese civilization’s cultivation of the Daoist concept of Wu Wei. This is typified by a continual alignment of “the way”, or the path; or how we may in the West think of it, in the words of Marcus Aurelius, “in accordance with Nature”. We do not see an anxious thirst to combat or overcome Western mass culture; ironically this would be a Western attempt. Instead, there is an effort at harmony, a quintessential Chinese cultural trait which has enabled the Dragon People to tranquilly permeate all corners of the Earth; in stark contradiction to any hegemonic trepidations anticipated by a Western self-determined ethos of the rise of this Ancient Civilization as a “global power”. In a sense, it is Ms. Rong’s own efforts at tranquility that are achieved through the uncanny experience of being Chinese in solitude that are self-reflected in the compositions for a pacific resolution.

Ms. Janna Ireland perspicaciously satirizes our vanity of normalcy, and is a paragon of the beauty of contemporary photography’s contribution to Western Fine Art. Her subject matter permits a plasticity of suburban symbolism which concentrates itself upon the superfluously mundane promises of a life fulfilled in a nuclear family; erstwhile humorizing the spendthrift vitality at striving for a resemblance of perfection. Her critique of the sinfulness of vanity allows us to probe to its quintessential misalignment with The Good – and the arrival at a playful yet severe conception of deceit is a profound one; for it is not so much the personas deceiving the world – and by extension nature – as it is a revelation of their own self-deception in the pursuit of happiness, giving us pause in aiming for an authenticity with our own humanity.

Robert von Sternberg arrives at what his wife poeticizes as capturing the “crowded vacancy” of our civilized habitats. There is a hidden beauty of the communion of our civilized forms grounded virtually in a land before time. Mr. Sternberg emphasizes this mystery which permeates as the sun sets and the electrical pipes warm up to illuminate a forestry of architectural awesomeness. Seldom do we appreciate such a sustenance of our humanity and its moving parts we glide over. It is appreciative, then, for Mr. Sternberg to give this stupendous insight lest we be remiss with our pleases and thank-yous to our fellow humanity which keeps the engine running.


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