New Primordial Chaos

New Primordial Chaos

新渾淪圖

2014

Michael Cherney 秋麥

(American, b. 1969)

Photograph in handscroll format, ink on mitsumata washi paper

Image: 29.7 x 86.2 cm (11 11/16 x 33 15/16 in.); Overall: 31.6 x 337.2 cm (12 7/16 x 132 3/4 in.)

The Jane B. Tripp Charitable Lead Annuity Trust 2015.80

Location

Fun Fact

On the day Cherney took the photograph, Beijing’s Air Quality Index was 517 (150 is unhealthy).

Description

Michael Cherney has a "painterly" style of landscape photography much inspired by the aesthetics of Chinese painting. Here, he superimposed a photograph of the sun onto the composition of Hunlun tu by Zhu Derun (1294–1365), a famous 14th-century Chinese painting variously translated as "Primordial Chaos" or the "Cosmic Circle." Zhu Derun depicted a circle to convey the Daoist cosmological idea of primordial chaos—the great undifferentiated matter out of which heaven and earth and all forms emerged.

Cherney's New Primordial Chaos revisits the chaos after creation, a human-generated chaos that is so overwhelming and toxic that it can cloud the sun, making it look like not itself but the moon. Polluted air and clouds shroud the sun on a Beijing day. The resulting image, which resembles the moon shining in the night sky, is the artist's deliberate attempt to create confusion and subtle critique of the contemporary environmental crisis.

See also

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@clevelandart.org.

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

Is something not working on this page? Please email help.website@clevelandart.org.

Request a digital file from Image Services that is not available through CC0, a detail image, or any image with a color bar. If you have questions about requesting an image, please email imageservices@clevelandart.org.