Contact Sheet 176: Michael Bühler-Rose
Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: Light Work (March 1, 2014)
With multiple bodies of work brought together in New Geographics, artist Michael Bühler-Rose explores what he calls a “new geography”—that, in our rapidly globalizing world, cultures and places are crossing over others right in front of our eyes.
A working artist and professor in New York City, he has for many years led a parallel life as a Vaishnava devotee. He regularly attends temples in New York City, where he lives with his family, and a few times a year makes a pilgrimage to a variety of religious sites in India to study ritual and philosophy. Bühler-Rose’s photography may arise out of his own duality, as a working professional in one of the most extravagant and material cities in the world and as a regular visitor to quiet, holy places in India.
“My work itself, in many regards, has nothing to do with India; it is very much about an American experience of a place,” Bühler-Rose explains. “In the same way, I am an American devotee of the Hindu God Krishna and have to constantly negotiate how that works outside of its original cultural context. My personal, spiritual practice is heavily invested in ritual and raises the same issues in terms of how to navigate traditional observances within a very different atmosphere, and how to keep the same goals in mind while adjusting details. In one read of the photographs they show a dichotomy of East and West, but in reality they show a newer world that is more likely neither—one that is specifically global while simultaneously local.”
Bühler-Rose utilizes photography to unravel our ideas of place, culture, spirituality, exoticism, and authenticity. His photographs leave us with many questions, and ones which may not have easy answers. Together they are a part of a larger dialogue about our increasingly globalized world and its elasticity, and a striking visual of modern culture at a moment where everything around us is simultaneously expanding and shrinking.
This catalog includes an essay by Shane Lavalette.
Michael Bühler-Rose, born in New Jersey, lives and works in New York City. He received a Fulbright Fellowship to India, obtained his BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and his MFA from University of Florida. Recent work and curated projects have been exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, Delhi; Witte de With, Rotterdam; Sackler Museum, Cambridge; Vogt Gallery, New York; Chatterjee and Lal, Mumbai; Nature Morte, New Delhi and Berlin; Scaramouche, New York; and Carroll and Sons, Boston. His work is held in the Sammlung Goetz, Munich, the SK Kultur Stiftung / Photographische Sammlung, Cologne, and the Harvard Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA. He is an instructor at the Rhode Island School of Design and The Cooper Union.