dutch pavilion: fiona tan at the venice art biennale 09
 
dutch pavilion: fiona tan at the venice art biennale 09 dutch pavilion: fiona tan at the venice art biennale 09
jun 24, 2009

dutch pavilion: fiona tan at the venice art biennale 09

still from ‘disorient’, 2009 image courtesy of fiona tan and frith street gallery, london

curated by saskia bos at the invitation of the mondriaan foundation, the dutch pavilion is a presentation of three projects: ‘provenance’, ‘rise and fall’, and ‘disorient’ by fiona tan. ‘disorient’ was conceived specially for the dutch pavilion and points to the strategic geopolitical position held by venice in the distant past. the starting point for this video was to address the 700-year-old account of the travels written by venetian trader marco polo. here, tan connects the 13th-century mercantile power of venice to edward said’s concept of orientalism: the inability of ‘the west’ to truly come to grips with the essence of ‘the east’. marco polo’s travels are brought into our own times. tan not only makes reference to the centuries-old traditions in the west of creating unilateral images of the east, but also emphasizes that the west needs to find new bearings.

still from ‘disorient’, 2009 image courtesy of fiona tan and frith street gallery, london

still from ‘disorient’, 2009 image courtesy of fiona tan and frith street gallery, london

‘disorient’ projected in the dutch pavilion image © designboom

still from ‘rise and fall’, 2009 image courtesy of fiona tan and frith street gallery, london

‘rise and fall’ is a double screen projection, which is being shown for the first time in venice. the work asks us to consider the transient and conflicting nature of human experience, in every movement we rise and fall, in every encounter we come together and fall apart. the videos make us confront the passage of time. memories from various phases of a woman’s life are seen against a backdrop of images of tempestuous nature.

still from ‘rise and fall’, 2009 image courtesy of fiona tan and frith street gallery, london

an attentive audience watching ‘rise and fall’ image © designboom

still from ‘provenance’, 2008 image courtesy of fiona tan and frith street gallery, london

based on the 17th century paintings in the rijksmuseum, amsterdam. tan was invited to work with the museum’s collection, for which she focused on working with the portrait collection from the dutch golden age. the film portraits do not seek to simulate the paintings. instead, tan’s black and white films represent people from in and around her home city to create a contemporary version of the 17th century portrait. each project on six small, vertically orientated LCD screens, orientated like paintings in a museum. the individuality of those she portrays is expressed most in the instances when the individuals have eye contact with the camera, just long enough to create the impression that it is not us who are watching them, but they who are watching us.

still from ‘provenance’, 2008 image courtesy of fiona tan and frith street gallery, london

still from ‘provenance’, 2008 image courtesy of fiona tan and frith street gallery, london

the framed LCD screens of ‘provenance’ hung like paintings in a museum image © designboom

still from ‘provenance’, 2008 image courtesy of fiona tan and frith street gallery, london

artist fiona tan

fiona tan (born 1966) is the daughter of a chinese father and and australian mother, born in indonesia. driven by the repressive regime to relocate to australia, her biography resembles that of immigrant children or the children of diaspora. the object of her work is never a literal search for truth or identity: the artist is able through various means to deconstruct and complement memory processes and storylines, whether or not with the help of found film fragments that both bring history to life and seem to question it.

curator of the dutch pavilion, saskia bos

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