Fiona Tan: Short Voyages

Artvehicle 2/Review

Fiona Tan’s exhibition at Frith Street Gallery, continues her interests of the objective nature of film making and of portraiture, identity, the passage of time and memory. The exhibition hinges around two main works; both are double projections, both lie somewhere in between the still photograph and the moving picture. Study for a Portrait (2006) is a filmed portrait of a pair of identical twin sisters, aged around twelve. A static shot focuses on each girl in turn, but as they look, to all intents, the same and are dressed identically, it is almost impossible to tell that there are indeed two different people here (occasionally, however, a second shoulder or knee is glimpsed at the edge of the frame to give us a clue). We watch the girls try and sit still in front of the camera for the duration of the four-minute video. There is no sound other than the rustle of their clothes and the occasional stifled giggle. The girls uncomfortably shuffle about and squirm, their age and the gaze of the camera ensuring that they find it impossible to sit still or behave naturally.

The Changeling (2006) is presented so that two screens face one another across a room. One displays a static shot of a young, pre-pubescent Japanese girl. This girl looks across the room to a slide show of a series nearly two-hundred of her peers; each dressed identically and with identical haircuts. There is a voice-over emanating from above the single portrait; it is a fictive monologue of the girl’s thoughts and reflections about herself, her life, her family and friends who scroll in front of her and our eyes. Tan’s piece is re-recorded into the local language each time it is exhibited so that the voice over always occurs in a familiar voice and the meaning and reading of the piece changes in each context. These linguistic shifts act so as to divorce the images from the spoken word and in doing so force the viewer to consider their own position in relation to the work. As the girl imagines her future and that of her friends, the viewer is left to speculate on the gulf between these childhood dreams and the adult reality that these young girls will encounter. 


Frith Street Gallery
59-60 Frith Street
London W1D 3JJ

Saturday, 11am-5pm

Fiona Tan: Short Voyages — Fiona Tan  The Changeling (2006)
                                           Installation (digital), English Version
                                           Courtesy the artist and Frith Street
                                          Gallery, London

Fiona Tan
The Changeling (2006)
Installation (digital), English Version
Courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London