Elli Chung, who received an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2012, presents an artists’ book and selection of prints from her thesis project, KAMI. Kami is an East-Asian philosophy of aesthetics derived from Buddhist tradition; the word is Japanese for “god” or “essence” and refers to the spirits that inhabit the physical world. The book is made of large-scale prints, which can be viewed alongside the text describing each of the gods.
Chung has crafted a series of photographic scenes from nature and domestic life, which allude to mythological creatures from Japanese folklore. For example, a spout of water rising from an algae- covered pond is KAPPA, “a lake monster with a water-filled head and a love of cucumbers;” and a potato nestled by the water’s edge is KAWA AKAGO, “an infant monster who lurks near rivers and drowns peo- ple.” Chung remarked, “KAMI is a contemplation on imagination and the intimate relationship between our desires and the way we read and experience images.”
Gall and Chung, photographic artists from two generations, share a profound and spiritual respect for nature and use their subjective imaginations as the prism through which they depict the world.