Tara Fallaux, PERFECT PEARL (PREFACE) 塔拉·法劳克斯,《珍珠》(前言)
Tara Fallaux, PERFECT PEARL
Selection of 80 photos, 60 pages.
Special folding design.
Design by Eva van der Schans/ In Edition
Printed by Die Keure, Brugge
Review of PERFECT PEARL in Cphmag by Jörg Colberg.
More than Just Love
Text: He Yining
Just a dike away from the salty sea, Shapowei was once the origin of Xiamen Harbour. Every evening, lovers from all over the country meet here and walk through the dense alleyways before stopping by the fishing harbour where the local ritual boats moored. As far as the eye can see, buildings constructed in different historical periods are reflected on the water. The light and shadow dance with the sea breeze, concentrating on the city's history and recent collision and people's imagination of romance and love. Xiamen is called the 'Antwerp of China' because of its cluster of fashion designers and independent design brands and its romantic and casual lifestyle. It is here that Tara Fallaux began her creative journey in 2018, using different mediums to explore the concept of perfect love in contemporary Chinese contexts.
What means by "romance" and "love" seems to be vague and distant from Chinese daily life, for they go far beyond the feelings and affections of two individuals but are associated with the underlying ideology of family, responsibility and carrying on the family line in traditional Chinese culture. Love in Chinese literature and drama is based on the undercurrent of sorrow and joy. Forty years after China's reform and opening up, the contemporary concept of marriage is still held hostage by patriarchal ideology. Chinese women are pursuing an autonomous life and striving toward economic freedom. At the same time, their gains and losses are still tied to the pillar of honour of the family, making it difficult for them to move forward.
The Perfect Pearl explores the universality of love and marriage in Chinese women's spiritual and daily lives. Pearl bears the meaning of 'beautiful' and 'cherished' in Chinese culture, and it also implies fulfilment and perfection given its round shape. A 'perfect pearl' signifies a happy life or perfect love. In this carefully choreographed artist book titled as such, Tara Fallaux juxtaposes the monologues of her Chinese female friends with the metaphors of marriage and family life in everyday Chinese life.
The self-referential texts of the young girl are woven, throughout the work, with her portraits, in each of which the girl expresses all sorts about herself, ranging from her simple thoughts on the definition of happiness, sweet fantasies, and the clash of values to the reality of hardship and social pressure. These images are then woven into the pages, along with photographs of lovers taking their wedding photoshoots on the beach, men and women in a nightclub, city skyscrapers and model houses of real estate sales centres, reflecting one's imagination of a 'perfect pearl'.
On top of the narrative framework built from the images mentioned above, Tara's unique book design leads the reader to a hidden space, where the visual and the written word, the outside and the inside of one's mind, the public and the private collapsed. When we lift a close-up photograph of a model house, the complete image is torn apart unexpectedly by the double folding design, revealing the photographer's carefully hidden narrative: a couple in wedding dresses standing in front of a flowering shrub. At the same time, words from private WeChat notes are quoted, emphasizing one's insecurities and doubts about love or the perfect marriage.
This artist book, created during Tara Fallaux's residency in Xiamen, uses a rich narrative to draw out the different aspects of love in the Chinese context: romantic, stable, financially grounded, and the individual's struggle and reflection in the face of these cultural and practical realities. They leave us wondering if perfect love exists? Does the meaning of marriage expand as China's economy develops and its culture opens up? How should the freedom and development of individual women transcend the shackles of traditional family values?