Mohini Chandra and Christopher Stewart’s new collaborative work Dark Pacific Sun articulates the Pacific as a site of edenic fantasy. In this collection of photographs and moving images an ocean laps a crimson island, black fireworks explode in a white night sky and a submarine surfaces in a graphite sea. To emphasize the dialectic between beauty and fear and the vastness of the Pacific, where day and night occur simultaneously at different geographic points, Chandra+Stewart use the metaphor of the negative, or inversion. In this work what is light becomes dark and what is dark becomes light.
Due to it’s remoteness to Europe and unique flora and fauna the Pacific has been romanticized – the Tahiti of Gauguin for example or of Mutiny on the Bounty. However, it has also been the repository of experiments in dystopia and militarization exemplified by mid-century atomic testing and is currently the site of a global shift in power. In the act of reversing the photographic positive - of plants, landscapes, people, ocean and ultimately the Pacific sun itself Dark Pacific Sun becomes an allegory for this region, where the hotness of the sun's white light becomes pitch black and where day and night, through the materiality of the photographic process becomes reversed.
Chandra+Stewart are currently based in the Asia-Pacific region where they have developed their first collaborative project as a dialectical and cross-cultural articulation of both the real and the imaginary Pacific. Mohini Chandra’s previous work exploring the role of the photographic in relation to memory and migration was influenced by her childhood experience of time spent in Fiji with her family and travelling widely within the Asia-Pacific region. Christopher Stewart’s previous work has been concerned with hierarchies of vision, surveillance and the contested territories of borders in relationship to globalization and conflict.
Mohini Chandra studied at the Royal College of Art and has exhibited widely including Paradise Now? Contemporary Art From the Pacific Asia Society Museum New York; Out of India Queens Museum of Art New York; The East Wing Collection Courtauld Institute London; 000ZeroZeroZero, Whitechapel Gallery London; and in international events such as the First Johannesburg Biennale. Her work is featured in major survey publications including Phaidon's Art and Photography (ed. David Campany) and held in international collections including the Arts Council England Collection.
Christopher Stewart graduated from the Royal College of Art and exhibitions have included Darkside II, Fotomuseum Winterthur Switzerland; the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Something That I’ll Never Really See; Fabula at the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television in Bradford; and East End Academy at the Whitechapel Gallery. His work is included in photographic surveys including Thames and Hudson’s The Photograph as Contemporary Art (ed. Charlotte Cotton) and held in public and private collections including the Victoria & Albert Museum’s permanent collection in London and the Martin Z. Margulies collection in Miami. Previous solo exhibitions at Gimpel Fils include Super Border in 2009 and Observations in 2006.