FIONA TAN AND HER TRIP TO THE FAR EAST

Portrait of Fiona Tan

 

 

Fiona Tan, born in Sumatra in 1966, she is an audiovisual artist of recognized prestige worldwide. In 1988 she moved to the Netherlands. She’s origins, of Chinese father and Australian mother, make that she herself considers a "professional foreigner". This idea is present in her work. Her personal and strongly marked style goes from photography to film to video art. The alternation of these techniques shows a reflection of colonial society in the East. The artist focuses especially on the myths and legends of this postcolonial and globalized culture.

 

 

Fiona Tan Desoriente (Disorient), 2009. Installation of digital video of two channels

 

 

Tan, created this magnificent work of art for the Dutch pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale, taking advantage of the fact that the city appears in the filming. In fact it plays a very important role since the documentary reflects how Venice was one of the strategic points for the realization of the trips in the XI and XIV towards the Far East. It evokes the dream of a "Great Far East" described by Marco Polo as a source of inspiration for so many stories and works of art.

 

 

Installation of Fiona Tan, Collecting and classifying, beyond the document

 

 

In the installation of Desoriente, as in others that he has exposed, the main work is two screens where narrates his particular vision on the subject to deal in question. With a masculine voice, which whispers fragments of the voyages of Marco Polo, this confronted vision of the East is completed. In one of the screens, the larger of the two, shows an anachronistic succession of objects and thematic memories, facing that screen images of the contemporary life of the Asian continent.

 

 

Rise and Fall, 2009, two-channel video installation. Photo by Per Kristiansen, Stockholm. Courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London

 

 

The juxtaposition of these two screens, apparently without anything in common but intimately connected, suggests to the viewer a certain sense of disorientation. The artist transforms the cultural memory and the modern myth and transports it to our days with a reconstruction of the Marco Polo’s Asia. You can enjoy this installation until March 19.

 

 

 

The CEART opens this Thursday, November 14th in the room A an exhibition dedicated to this master of photography, which will be open to the public until February 9th. The show includes one of the artist's latest projects, focused on the hard work carried out by the miners of Serra Pelada, an open gold mine in the heart of Brazil where employees daily risked their lives.

Immigration, poverty, marginal life, slave labour, man's relationship with the land, the use of natural resources... are issues that have always fascinated Salgado. From the beginning of his career as a photographer, his work has opted to give visibility to the most disadvantaged groups and to create with his images a vivid and impressive visual story without fakes. With a raw black and white, this author's work transits between photo-reportage and naturalistic photography.

And the idea that permeates all his work is human dignity. Salgado portrays employees, miners and gatherers from a purely humanistic approach that wants to value their integrity, their strength and their resilience.

“If you photograph a human, so that he is not represented in a noble way, there is no reason to take the picture. That is my way of seeing things.”

Salgado entered this discipline long after completing his studies in economics between Brazil and the United States, and a doctorate in statistics in France. But in 1973 his life took a turn, and he decided to start his career as a photographer. He achieved to work at the Gamma Agency and Magnum Photos for more than 15 years until in 1994 he founded his own agency “Amazonas Imagen”.

With the “Gold” project, the photographer portrays a harsh reality that takes place in the Serra Pelada mine, a name given to a totally devastated and anarchically excavated mining enclave, the world's largest open-pit gold mine, through which more than 50,000 people have passed. In the heat of the legends about the mysterious “El Dorado”, the enthusiasm for this precious metal led to the development of strenuous exploitation practices for the workers and to originate tales of grief and glory, of human victory and defeat between the soil, the tunnels and the cargo baskets.

The CEART exhibition brings together Salgado's full portfolio in his characteristical black and white and large-format photographs that leave no one indifferent.