Fiona Tan

° 1966, Pekan Baru (ID) – lives and works in Amsterdam (NL) 

Fiona Tan explores history and time and our place within them, working within the contested territory of representation. Deeply embedded in all of Tan’s works is her fascination with the mutability of identity, the deceptive nature of representation and the play of memory across time and space in a world increasingly shaped by global culture. She investigates how we represent ourselves and the mechanisms that determine how we interpret the representation of others.

Since the mid-1990s, she has made carefully crafted and intensely compassionate works in expanded film and video installations. Photography and film, made by her, or by others, or a combination of both, are her mediums, while classification and the archive are her strategies. Disorient (2009), conceived for the Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, points to the strategic geopolitical position held by Venice in the past and raises questions around contemporary globalisation. Filmed on location at the pavilion, its voiceover was composed of quotations from Marco Polo’s contested travelogue Il Milione. A testament to Tan’s passion for archives, her video installation Pickpockets (2020) stems from an album of photographs she came across when in residence at the Getty Research Center, Los Angeles. It contained early examples of mugshots taken of pickpockets apprehended at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1889. Fascinated by the subjects of these portraits, their names and countries of origin, and their unknown stories, she invited a group of writers to devise monologues from the point of view of these individuals, which were then performed and recorded by actors.

(courtesy of Frithstreet Gallery)


Fiona Tan
(courtesy of the artist)

Her installations and photographic works have been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions in international venues. She has written and directed to date two feature length films. Recent solo exhibitions took place at the Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Museum für Modern Kunst, Frankfurt; De Pont Museum, Tilburg; Izu Photo Museum, Japan; Mudam, Luxembourg; Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo; The BALTIC, Gateshead; MAXXI, Rome; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Fiona Tan represented The Netherlands at the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009). Her work has been shown at various international group shows including in the São Paulo Biennial; Documenta IX, Kassel; and Istanbul Biennale. Her work is represented in numerous international public and private collections including the Tate Modern, London; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Neue National Galerie, Berlin; and the MCA, Chicago.

Fiona Tan is represented by the following gallery;
click through to discover more of her work.

Frith Street Gallery, London

You can also discover more of Fiona Tan’s work on her own website.

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