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