American photographer Catherine Jansen has traveled to India more than twenty-five times, always with camera in hand. With a profound knowledge of the country, she travels alone and is able to visit places and witness rituals usually inaccessable to foreigners as well as to many Indians, particularly women. The artist has written, “My own vision is informed by a living study of Indian spiritual practices in which my camera becomes an instrument of that discipline of attention.” The finished photographs, selected from the tens of thousands she takes, are not as much individual moments as expansive visions, what she calls “intimate immensities,” crafted from composite views, which seek to recreate how we experience spaces in spiritual, emotional, and sensory ways.
The idea for the exhibition is drawn from an artist’s book Jansen made entitled 1008 A Visual Contemplative Journey by Catherine Jansen (2014), 1008 is the number of images she included in the book and a sacred number in Hinduism, corresponding to the 1008 names for Lord Shiva. By combining carefully arranged clusters of seven images (also a spiritual number) on each page, and presenting them without the influence of captions, Jansen invites the viewer to move meditatively through the book and respond to the images aesthetically and emotionally, without the need to know exactly what, where, or who is depicted.
Honoring the artist’s vision for the project, the Fleming Museum’s exhibition of her work is not a traditional one. As in the book, the photographs are unlabeled. Juxtapositions of paired images structure the exhibition. A media installation includes projections of each of the 1008 images, as well as ambient sounds captured on Jansen’s journeys. After viewing the exhibition, visitors are invited to delve into the stories behind some of the images through video commentary by the artist.
Exhibition overview from museum website