Gonkar Gyatso, a Tibetan-born British artist, explores contemporary Tibetan identity through a series of large-scale photographs depicting members of a single family living in Lhasa. Inspired by the proliferation of photographic media including fashion photography, Family Album investigates changing representations of Tibetan-ness in an increasingly interconnecting, globalized world.
Gyatso composes the photographs as a family album, revealing the complex and varied roles of each family member. He examines the ways in which Lhasans’ wardrobes and postures gracefully adapt to professional, familial, religious, and holiday settings. These multiple transformations in outward appearance may also suggest inner states and the shifts between them that Tibetans navigate on a daily basis.
In 2003, Gyatso completed his first series of photographs, My Identity, in which he explored his own personal ideological shifts across the political, social, and national boundaries that constitute Tibet. Family Album is Gyatso’s second major photographic project. The photographs were taken in Lhasa in collaboration with photographer, Zhadui.
One of the few artists from the Tibetan diaspora to gain international recognition, Gyatso’s work often juxtaposes Buddhist iconography with the ephemera of pop culture, bridging Eastern and Western cultures in new and engaging ways.
Gyatso’s work has been exhibited and collected in galleries and museums around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, the Rubin Museum of Art in New York, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He participated in the 53rd Venice Biennale, the 6th Asia Pacific Triennial in Brisbane, and the 17th Sydney Biennale.