How can a multitude of photographs—inspired by an engagement with varied histories—dignify the Moon as a venerated celestial object?
The Fifteenth Night is a photographic exploration of the Moon's mysterious appeal- one that has inspired and captured the curiosity of humanity for millennia. Considering both traditions of Romantic European painting and the Japanese practice of moon-viewing, the images provide an intimate reflection on the inexplicable allure of the Moon.
Among many other moon-viewing traditions in East-Asian cultures, the tradition of Tsukimi refers to the holding of moon-viewing parties in Japan. Aristocrats in the Heian era (794-1185) would partake in ceremonies where poetry was composed and recited under the mid-autumn Moon, often on boats to view the lunar reflection upon water. Today, it is celebrated by gathering in an ideal moon-viewing location decorated by pampas grass, and serving white rice dumplings. Through photographing the Moon, The Fifteenth Night became a record of my own moon-viewing ceremonies, a vehicle through which I was able to probe into a tradition simultaneously familiar and foreign to me.
Another instance of Moon appreciation is found in traditions of Romantic European painting. Within this tradition, the Moon’s substantial influence is seen especially in German Romantic works, where it features as both subject and light source. Painters such as J.C Dahl and Caspar David Friedrich were deeply fascinated by the visual effects of the Moon. Their paintings are quiet and evocative, featuring sparse landscapes which appear as little more than a frame for the main subject-the vast moonlit sky.
The first key moment in unveiling the Moon’s true nature in a Western trajectory of history is often referred to Galileo’s first gaze through his telescope in 1610. However, the way we view our silvery companion changed immeasurably fifty years ago on July 20th, 1969. While remaining an enigmatic entity, the Moon is also now equally a symbol of technological advancement and the politically driven force of humanity upon nature. The Fifteenth Night is a moon-viewing ceremony in a double sense. The photographs serve as a record of my own moon-viewing ceremonies; at the same time the audience’s engagement with this record itself becomes a new moon-viewing ceremony. The Fifteenth Night is a celebration and reflection on the Moon and the wonder it continues to bestow upon us: one of painterly inspiration, and the simple joy of observing its magnificence.