Erik Pauhrizi’s The Poison of our Sins @ CATM chelsea, 500 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011
When sovereign nations attempt to improve economies and introduce fair trade laws, they must also admit tourism as well as imported products. Autonomy and cultural identity tense a native citizen’s relationships on internal-, micro- and macro-levels. A child assimilates to a newly-introduced culture; a parent forces indigenous religious practices upon younger family members; a government official refuses aid from disparate organizations.
Erik Pauhrizi’s works featured in the solo exhibition The Poison of our Sins juxtapose visual illuminations of his personal dissatisfaction with his own self-image against brazen depictions of South East Asia’s, particularly Indonesia’s, history.
Pauhrizi tears apart, examines and documents ideologies that have been ingrained into Southeast Asian, specifically Indonesian, culture; to do so, he exploits most central customary iconography, down to a single grain of rice. Pauhrizi nearly acts as a sociologist, analyzing history and social relationships on a macro-level. His works are comprised of empirical facts and are left for the audience to convert into any philosophical arguments. Pauhrizi obviously considers contemporary issues in Southeast Asia, while The Poison of our Sins foments public unrest.
Interestingly, The Poison of our Sins uncovers a global phenomenon that has been linked to hegemony in Iranian art research on global comprehension of symbols and iconography. Specifically, recent studies on Orientalism unveil a pattern found in general documentations of historical events. An oppressive power receives credit for written accounts of history, in turn belittling the opposing country’s authority and even authenticity. Later histories are read and only a limited-perspective is absorbed through the written works. However, spoken narratives spread without gauge nor restrictions of flow. Since past research does not record verbal exchange, it excludes information shared between cultures during countless interactions. Consequently underlying connections among cultures may exist.
The artist tempts the viewer to attribute meaning through cultural norms. Contextual details prevalent in Pauhrizi’s works play with the canonical Eurocentric view of history as a linear trajectory. Pauhrizi derives his formal technique from “traditional” Indonesian art, natural resources and sociological practices. Although Indonesian allusions prevail, they do not fully explain composition of separate works.
Pauhrizi strives to render objective views of “third-world” countries’ struggles against hegemonic powers. His goal, in and of itself, leads Pauhrizi to expose a dichotomy between linguistic descriptivism and normative. In further explanation, The Poison of our Sins guides one to view “symbols” in the context of Pauhrizi’s ethnic background, yet his works, which have been internationally displayed, direct the viewer to decipher “symbols” by associating visual form with the viewer’s previous experience.
During times of excessive colonialism and imperialism, combinations of cultural ethos are unrepresented in written history yet evident in observation. International audience often comprehends visual forms attributed to dissimilar societies. The young artist Pauhrizi recreates historical narratives by portraying overlapping connections between contemporary global thought and South East Asian cultures. Moreover, Pauhrizi creates a self-reflexive identity by immersing his own image into art works.
Open until May 8th, 2011.