Wako Works of Art is pleased to announce Suri, the gallery’s 9th solo exhibition of the work of Netherlands artist Fiona Tan, which will be on view from Fri., February 10 to Sat., April 1, 2023.
The show features Tan’s recent video works Archive (2019) and Pickpocket (2020). All of these works are on view in Japan for the first time.
the Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions 2023
2023.2.3(Fri.) – 2.19(Sun.)
Exhibited work: Lift (2000)
It is with great pleasure that Wako Works of Art presents Suri, the gallery’s ninth solo exhibition by the Netherlands-based video and film artist Fiona Tan, on view from Friday, February 10 to Saturday, April 1, 2023. The exhibition, which was postponed due to the pandemic, features a total of four video works, Archive (2019) and three works from the Pickpockets series (2020), all of which are being shown in Japan for the first time. In addition, Technicolor Dreaming, a photographic series produced in 2022, will be exhibited for the first time anywhere.
Fiona Tan (1968 -) is known for video and photographic works that incorporate temporal and spatial manipulations. Often these feature found photos originating from ordinary people which Tan has reconfigured and invigorated in elaborate and unexpected ways. In Tan’s works in which sequences of fragmented still images become motion pictures, distinctions between photography and film are blurred, introducing new perspectives to the ways we perceive time itself. Time is also a key element in each of the series shown in this exhibition.
Archive (2019) is a 4K digital video piece inspired by the Mundaneum, a plan for a universal archive undertaken by Paul Otlet (1868 – 1944), the father of information science. After meticulously researching historical materials on Otlet, Tan devised fictional architecture for the archive based on her own interpretation of his unrealized utopian vision, and with the help of experts, brought it to life in the present day as a painstakingly constructed 3D video. Otlet’s visionary plan was to collect all of humanity’s knowledge at a single site, archive that information by sorting it hierarchically and spatially, and systematize “visual thinking” as a part of people’s daily lives. To give concrete form to Otlet’s vision, Tan drew up a circular floor plan and created a computer-graphic rendering of a colossal building based on it, which she presents as a video work. The Mundaneum, which today could be called “Google on paper,” was a milestone that can be seen as prefiguring cyberspace, and parts of the unfinished project are still stored in an archive in Belgium. The distinctive cabinets appearing in the video, which still exist in that archive, contain a vast number of index cards. Otlet, who lived through the two world wars, was also known for his achievements in peace activism, and believed that integrating all human wisdom and making it universally accessible would bring about peace and point the way to an ideal world. The early 20th century, when Otlet lived, was an era when it was thought that the world was finite, and that complete knowledge of it would lead to progress for humankind.
Shadow Archive (2019) is a photographic series in which the virtual architectural spaces of Archive, generated with computer graphics, are captured on paper using 19th-century photogravure techniques. The cohabitation of antique methodologies and the latest 3D-modeled imagery in this work disrupts our concept of time, obscures the boundaries between fantasy and reality, and delivers a novel viewing experience.
Pickpockets (2020) is a multi-channel video installation based on documentary photographs of pickpockets arrested at the Paris World’s Fair of 1889. Fictional monologues created by Tan and a team of scriptwriters serve as voice-overs for still portraits of actual pickpockets. Tan encountered this material during a residency at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, and inspired by the gaze of each of the arrested petty criminals and their unknowable lives, gave each one of them a story. Of this series, Tan says she “stole the faces and voices of the pickpockets.” Imagined words, artfully superimposed on the archived antique portrait photographs, strike the viewer with a compelling sense of reality. The series consists nine works to date, with each of the pickpockets telling their stories in various languages including English, French, German, and Scots, in keeping with their origins. Three will be on view in this exhibition.
Technicolor Dreaming (2022), which makes its global debut here, is a photographic work produced in conjunction with the video installation Footsteps (2022), in which letters from Tan’s father are read in voice-overs superimposed on video footage constructed from Dutch ethnohistorical records in the collection of the EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam. Inspired by early filmmakers’ pursuit of color, the series eschews the notion of technical perfection in favor of Tan’s intuitive handling of subtle coloring on top of photogravure images.