In 1972, the crew of Apollo 17 took the famous Blue Marble image of the Earth, which inspired Liu to create The Ring B a year later. This painting juxtaposes the earth shaped by the millennia of human imagination with a photograph taken from 29,000km away in space. Human traditions, myths and history approach the actual image for a cosmic rendezvous.
Meanwhile on the wall opposite sits Untitled by Mary Dhapalany, from Ramingining, Northern Territory in Australia (detail pictured below, left). A weaver and an actress, Dhapalany work is rooted in the Yolŋu’s traditional nganiyal (woven mats) that have deep ritual, ceremonial and practical significance.
Untitled is an iridescent pandanus mat with five spiralling circles. On the wall, these look like eyes, or waves, upon which travel knowledge and stories from one generation to another, intricately weaving the complex threads of family, relations, territories and bodies. And as each loop joins and encloses another, nothing and no one is left behind.
Then comes Urgen Dorje Sherpa’s 100 Peaceful and Wrathful Mahayoga Deities Mandala (detail pictured below, right), a large thanka on the right that is the visual representation of the Bardo – ‘liminal state of existence between death and rebirth’.
The mandala rises laterally instead of the usual circular structure, as seen from above, and depicts the tantra concerning life and death.
This is a guide for departed souls to a swift and positive rebirth – another ‘map’ that transcends to show us a geography beyond what is tangible. Together, the three artworks set the tone for the rest of the exhibition, punctuated only by changing landscape and styles.