Carlos Museum Highlights Contemporary Tibetan Life

''Family Album'' features photographs and life-size cutouts of his family members.
''Family Album'' features photographs and life-size cutouts of his family members.
Credit Courtesy of the Michael C. Carlos Museum


Tibetan-born, British artist Gonkar Gyatso just finished a residency at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University.

And his work is currently on view there. In the exhibit, “Family Album,” Gyatso documents his family who reside in Tibet’s capital Lhasa. But the photographs look like images you’d find in a fashion magazine. Family members pose in a mix of their traditional ensembles, featuring elegant chubas passed down from generation to generation, and their work and everyday clothes, from Dior purses to soccer cleats.

“One of the things Gonkar wanted to look at, in terms of the younger member of his family, is how they are using traditional garments and how they pose with them,” said Andrea McKenzie, the associate curator of works on paper at the Carlos Museum.  “It’s interesting to see this shift in their own identity when they put a different outfit on.”

There are also life-size cutouts of the family members clumped around the exhibit space.

“You’re confronted with the family members in a way you have to engage with them,” she said.

The exhibit also reveals that contemporary life and cultural heritage are reconcilable. In one image, Gyatso’s brother poses in traditional garb while his sister-in-law poses in a short, white dress. In between their hands, they hold an iPhone.

Gyatso’s “Family Album” is part of a larger project he is doing exploring contemporary Tibet identity. The exhibit is on view at the Carlos Museum through Nov. 27.

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