Tara Fallaux: Love and the Perfect Pearl
Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, so love is on our minds, and it seems only fitting to discuss Tara Fallaux’s work and its long history with the concept of love. Tara Fallaux, an artist out of Amsterdam, has created films, photographs, and multimedia projects that discuss the nature of love, desire and the psychological and cultural complexities that exist within it.
Her work is based on people’s personal stories that represent the universal attributes that make life so complex, and often building off and manipulating the emotional and cultural illusions we prescribe around love. For instance, when watching the introduction film of Love Line, a multimedia project about the progression of romantic relationships, the content is easily relatable, although visually abstract. The audience is presented with two characters whose demeanor changes over time. Forcing the viewer to meditate on moments within relationships, Tara controls our senses to represent the feelings we can relate to by utilizing lighting, sound, and her characters’ expressions. Love Line depicts the complexity of romantic relationships from start to end by showing us two individuals initially seen beaming with light that transcends into a more aggressive and darker state.
Tara’s latest project on love is her book and multimedia series, Perfect Pearl. The series takes us on a journey from the female perspective of young Chinese girls in their twenties searching for love. The book title refers to the saying “faded pearl,” which is a statement to represent Chinese girls that are over 25 and are not married. She states that Perfect Pearl is about the “picture perfect, the perfect life you want to create for yourself when you grow up — the most beautiful woman, with the most beautiful job, house, etc.”. But Tara questions if this can happen and says it is truly about “castles in the sky and future dreams.” What is so intriguing about this project is that it plays with illusions and realities. Tara mixes documentary and staged imagery to get at the complexity of love – the desire for love is not only about the connection between two people but about visions of how we perceive the ideal life and our search to escape loneliness. Tara made this work during a 5-month artist residency in China, where she connected with female students at Xiamen University. These images reflect their conversations about experiences and expectations around love.
The image that immediately sets the scene for Perfect Pearl is of multiple brides and grooms posing on the beach to get the archetypal wedding photograph. Tara mentioned this was a usual occurrence that she saw since she lived close to this particular beach during her residency. Another image that visual mimics Michelango’s La Pietà shows an exhausted bride clinging on to her phone being held by the groom. These images are documentary in nature but show us the reality of “creating castles in the sky” that Tara says the work is ultimately about.
And just as love is messy and complicated in real life, so is Tara’s work. The documentary and staged images are intertwined. The beauty of the work is that it may take some contemplation to tell the difference. The portraits have a cinematic quality; through Chiaroscuro lighting and warm and cool color hues, these images evoke the sitter’s longing for love, to escape from solitude to a more idyllic future. The still lives and landscapes also are a part of this dream-like state. Inanimate objects and perfected landscapes become metaphors for these pursuits.
But Tara doesn’t work with images alone. She is a multimedia artist that entwines film, text, and sound. Perfect Pearl’s book layout is complex with its folding design. When first opening the book, it appears to be a traditional layout, but as one opens the folded panels, more is revealed. The inner folded pages reflect a time capsule, with quotes and imagery from each of her sitters. Tara uses WeChat translate to tell her sitter’s inner thoughts. ‘I fucking want to jump to the age of 30 and get married and then get divorced’ is an example of a personal quote shown with the images.
When exhibiting the work, Tara has a similar approach. Images are shown in multiple formats, along with monitors displaying related films. And while Tara’s project, the Love Line has some film and photo components, it primarily relies on sound. Tara creates and shares audio interviews about six couples. Each is a one-sided story of the beginning and end of a relationship. What each story depicts is a single memory and experience that discusses the miscommunication and intricacies that come with it. Utilizing a range of mediums is essential for her process – it allows for a more developed dialogue about the illusions and realities of love that she is ultimately trying to discuss.
But these two projects are not her first attempts to address this topic; Tara has also created short films with premises based on love. Tara created ‘Love Letters’ in 2017, a 25-minute film about young people who write love letters. In addition, Tara’s film ‘Over the Rainbow‘ is based on a true story about a woman (her aunt) who finds love at 82 with another woman. Although the film focuses on a short-lived relationship, the message is an optimistic story about how this romantic relationship opens up a whole new world and community for the protagonist.
Not all of Tara’s projects focus on love, but many do. Even if they are not specifically about love, there are still similar conceptual connections. Regarding her latest project Levare, a series exploring the yearning for weightlessness, Tara says, “as human beings, we are constantly shaping life; we can only assume that life can be made. Without that illusion, you can’t decide anything; you can’t determine a course, and you can’t have any expectations. Even though you know that you are often overcome by the inescapable capriciousness of life.” These words can also relate to all her projects about love. The work is diverse and dynamic, just like humans. Tara enjoys working with the concept of love because so many topics fall under it. Her work is open to the intricacies associated with love and the psychological, cultural, capitalistic, and authentic nature that defines it. We all can relate to it in one way or another.
Looking closely at how we perceive love is critical for understanding ourselves and taking a closer look at Tara Fallaux’s work certainly explains and illuminates the conception of love.
Check out Tara Falluax work on her website, https://www.tarafallaux.com/, follow her on Instagram, @tara_fallaux, and check out her current exhibition at Galerie Caroline O’Brien in Amsterdam, https://carolineobreen.com, where she will be showing her film “I Write This Letter in Bed,” which includes a love letter from the Perfect Pearl project.
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