The “ASHKTUM” photo exhibition is based on a jewellery series designed by Pinky Seung, founder of Headragon. This jewellery series exemplifies the great cultural significance of the Mughal Empire. As Pinky wishes to enrich the public’s knowledge of the empire’s rich history through effortful promotion, Mr. Melon Wong, the chief operating officer of AcroGrowth, has been commissioned to plan for the exhibition.
The Mughal Empire was founded by descendants of Genghis Khan and Timur, Babel, and lasted from the 16th century to mid-19th century. The territory of the empire was established by Babel, which went beyond India to include regions such as Afghanistan. The period is well-known for Taj Mahal, an ivory-white marble mausoleum declared as part of the Seven Wonders of the World. Mr. Wong has decided to bring out the cultural elements of the jewellery by shedding light on the lesser known love story behind Taj Mahal, narrating the tale between the Fifth generations of emperor Shah Jahan and the empress Mutaz Mahal. Although the Mughal Empire is situated in India, but incorporated within are strong traces of Chinese culture owing to the fact that the empire was established by descendants of Genghis Khan and Timur. As Islam was the royal religion during their rule, Islamic features dominated royal arts. Thus, the costumes, props, and content of the exhibition had to be given careful consideration. Under great scrutiny, strike a balance with modernity; there was also an attempt to dilute religious connotations as a preventative measure to minimise misunderstandings and conflicts associated with religion. Ultimately, we decided to employ the jewellery carvings as the main theme, in which the carvings are a defining feature of the Islamic arts. These carvings are largely made from combinations of geometric patterns or plants and flowers of nature, and are most popular amongst the royalty. As all the carvings are meticulously handmade, Mr. Wong has decided to instill a unique concept: “every carving is representative of an experience shared by Shah Jahan and Mutaz Mahal, and they all accumulate to form a complete pattern.” “I love you” in Taj’s native language, “ASHKTUM” is hence used to name the jewellry series.
With a clear aim to bring forth the meanings behind the carvings, the aforementioned love story, and the embedded historical and cultural significance, Mr. Wong has decided to employ images and videos as the medium for the exhibition. The main character of the exhibition is Mutaz Mahal, who in the images has been divided into 4 stages: perplexed, the encounter, infatuation, and death. This parallels how from Mutaz Mahal met Shah Jahan, fell in love with him, and died with great sorrow. In stark contrast, the video can be mainly divided into 3 parts: firstly, it has incorporated freshly choreographed dances which is in line with the projection mapping; secondly, there are detailed close ups of costumes and props; thirdly, the love story is visualised.
To promote the photo exhibition and the main theme, Mr. Wong has worked hand in hand with charities to design cookies with carvings from ASHKTUM. He has also worked with the organisation Hk11 Parent which serves to provide support for single parent families. A charity cookie workshop was held on Mother’s Day which was open to low-income families and single-parent families, free of charge. The famous children show host Tam Yuk Ying Helen participated, and taught children and parents how to make cookies. This workshop’s agenda and bring home message can be explained by the love that ASHKTUM patterns symbolizes: that love is not only shared by couples, but is also familial love. For every cookie a child made, it symbolizes a message of love to their parents. On the other hand, Mr. Wong also decided to mass produce cookies for sell, where the profit collected would be donated to single-parent families in need.
The “ASHKTUM” photo exhibition has taken place at the Central Art Gallery for 3 days. For a better projection of the love story, Mr. Wong has commissioned a printing company for producing high quality prints of the exhibits and employed specialised projectors to showcase the videos. He also planned the opening ceremony and invited celebrities and media to attend the exhibition. Celebrities who attended include Miss Coffee Lam and Miss Helen Tam.
Video of Exhibition