Perishing Shrines

posted in: Exhibitions | 0
Lisa Ross, Unrevealed, Site 3 (shrine) 2009

Argentea Gallery in Birmingham have an astonishing collection of photographs on show until 2 November. Lisa Ross, a photographer from New York collected images of shrines and holy relics / sites whilst travelling in Western China in the Taklamakan Desert region of Xinjiang. These belong to the indigenous Muslim Uyghur population who erected and collected these special places for hundreds of years as sites of pilgrimage and worship. The images are magical. Not just the intriguing content – of scraps of fabric fluttering in the breeze fastened to sticks or trees against pale backdrops of sand, but also the actual quality of the images – the pin perfect digital resolution printed on huge sheets of archival paper. A stunning collection of photographs. But sadly also a memorial, because these shrines have been decimated by the Chinese Government under the guise of removing radical Muslim extremism. Such a sad situation, with even more tragic stories of as many as 1.5 million Uyghurs having been forced into internment camps. Such a loss – culturally for China, but also to us all. I feel very lucky to have seen this while I was in Birmingham to steward at the Prism show at the RBSA last weekend.