Terri Tang – Microcosm
Bacteria was the start of life. Over 3 billion years ago, they formed under the deepest of the sea, until one day they figured out how to turn solar energy into chemical energy and released oxygen, the one most important thing to all living things on Earth, and eventually gave rise to our atmosphere.
Today we talk about bacteria with “horror”. Bacteria are anywhere and everywhere in our living environment and very much in our own body. Do you know, “There’re more bacteria in your mouth than there are people in the world?” and “Mobile phones have 18 times more bacteria than toilet handles.” Fortunately and luckily, most of the bacteria are harmless, and some beneficial or even essential to our own existence, for example, the yogurt you eat everyday contain lactobacillus that’s important for your digestative wellbeing, although some unpleasant ones can put you down for one week or two with running nose, cough or even a fever.
I guess, the relationship between them, the bacteria and the us, the humans is really just about co-existence. We owe our very origin from them and now we live with them. Thanks to the microscope, we can see them and learn from them. (Do you know, “most antibiotics are made from bacteria?”) I think ever since that happened, a new and alien world was revealed to us, at the microbial world. Perhaps that’s the kind of world artist Terri Tang wants to draw our attention to in her new solo exhibition Microcosm.
Some people say female have the ability to look into the small, trivial, detailed, miscellaneous. At least it seems to be the case with Terri. Her works are very much about the micro vision of our environment. At first sight, they look out of this world, but the forms, patterns and colours somehow reminded us something we did see or experience in our own life. So one might want to ask the question, “what is it.” If you want a quick answer, you can dip into the few lines in the Curator & Artist Statement. Unfortunately artwork is not after all a product, which you can put a product description. It became a living thing after it was made and likes to defy any intention to be interpreted like a product label. So “what is it” may not have an answer after all.
I think the most interesting thing about Terri Tang’s Microcosm is her effort and perhaps successful realisation of carrying her audience into another world, something unfamiliar yet very familiar as well. What people would see, think or imagine after they have been carried away has nothing to do with the artist. After this stage, it becomes their own business. Their thoughts became free particles and their experience varied.
The highlight of the show is definitely “PM2.5”. This is Terri Tang’s new body of work concerning the increasingly deteriorating environment in our big cities. The use of mask is a quote from the remembrance of people wearing them during extremely polluted days. And the embroidery bears a reference to microorganisms, something both visually beautiful and conceptually powerful.
Her exhibition Microcosm is located at the foyer of Willoughby City Council in Chatswood until 22 June 2015.