TAP 4X: Cabinet of Curiosities by Anuj Ambalal
Gallery Espace’s presentation for TAP 4X is a photo series by Anuj Ambalal. Shot inside antique dealers’ warehouses on an old 35 mm Pentax camera as well as a digital camera, they depict an assortment of miscellaneous objets d’art – ceramic animal figurines arranged in neat rows in glass display cabinets; tulip-shaped vases held up by cherubs; busts of clowns with exaggerated smiles; ruddy-cheeked English boys and women in Victorian gowns and bonnets; balustrades with intricate designs, carved wooden pillars and hand-painted doors; vintage radio sets and old table clocks; and even a life-size lion standing on a table. These fragments of architectural elements or home decor had been picked up, Ambalal found, from rummage sales or demolished houses, and had ended up stockpiled in the warehouses, where they were put away simply by type – fish figures in one shelf and dogs in another, and so on. The quotidian strangeness of this hermetic world and the incidental conjunctions the objects made struck a chord with Ambalal, who was then reading Haruki Murakami and immersed in the familiar, yet magical world of his novels.
The objects in the warehouse are clearly poorly-made reproductions of the coveted porcelain-ware figurines of legendary Western makers such as Meissen and Spode; neither particularly rare nor expensive, they have an exaggerated, camp aesthetic – the fish is a little too fish-like, the boy a little too frolicsome. Broken in places, and covered in dust and trailing cobwebs, they appear, in these compositions, like forgotten actors in a once grand, now forgotten tableaux fixed forever in mid-motion, and awaiting an unknown fate.