The photographs in Confluence were taken from numerous trips to China and Southeast Asia between 2010 and 2012. Zaradur presents these images, shot primarily on film, in a non-linear fashion. This arrangement is destabilizing, and creates a conflicting feeling, a feeling that is at the crux of this collection. Each image jumps between discordant themes, whether it’s simply aesthetic (colour or black & white, portrait or landscape) or culturally significant (urban or rural, enriched or impoverished). This approach fits perfect with the subject matter at hand. The aggressive post-colonial modernization within Asia’s enduring civilizations creates a culture that is increasingly hard to define.
In Cambodia, Zaradur presents an image of the venerable Angkor Wat, full of life, with the uncanny image of a tuk tuk and a moped driving through an ancient archway adorned with a weathered Buddha – a reminder of the spiritual reformation from Hinduism to Buddhism at the temple in the 13th century.
But, a glaring contrast exists only a few photographs later. A constructed stream in downtown Beijing is meant to serve as a natural space midst industry. space amidst industry. Its winding is mathematically perfect, dividing the surrounding terrace full of spotless stone tiles and unembellished, clean streetlights. Despite the few businessmen sitting and waiting to go somewhere else, the image is – intentionally – cold and vapid.
Zaradur presents these disagreements in an honest manner. Many of the photographs evoke complex political, spiritual or socioeconomic questions, the answers to which are not easy to display. How can a culture that is unwavering on its hold into the past, and has pushed forward modernity beyond its Western origins, comfortably maintain a society between? Confluence attempts to depict this society: the crowded long-exposure shot of advertisement-riddled Shanghai; A shepherd herding goats within a mountain valley in China’s Yunnan province; An elephant and a pickup truck sharing the road in Cambodia; A rice farmer in Bali surrounded by foreign owned plots; Children playing on a cement path between satellite equipped cinder block houses in Laos; The prayer flags and monasteries of Tibet.
Confluence is an intimate exhibition of a society that is steadfast in its pursuit of sustaining tradition in the midst of embracing a global culture.