Fiona Tan

Ascent

11 Feb - 11 June 2017

Fiona Tan is best known for her skillfully crafted and moving installations, in which explorations of identity, memory and history are key. Tan’s artworks deal with the question of the gaze – both the way in which we look at images and, through them, at the world that surrounds us, and also the way in which images, like mirrors, sometimes seem to look back at us.

Originating from the new audiovisual and photographic installation Ascent, her solo exhibition at the De Pont also includes a selection of recent and existing works that resonate with Ascent's consideration of photographic media.

Fiona Tan has created her newest work Ascent through a montage of over 4000 found still images of Mt. Fuji from the past 150 years. The work was commissioned and first shown at the Izu Photo Museum in Japan. Images were contributed by the public and were also selected from the museum’s own collection.

Ascent is at once a rumination on this singular mountain and its ongoing relationship with human beings, a study of visual culture, and a tribute to both photographic and film history. The resulting work considers the intertwinement of visibility and invisibility, distance and proximity, and the physical and the ephemeral.

As Tan herself says: "These thousands of images encircle the mountain like a cloud – revealing it and hiding it at the same time." Fictional narrative combines with documentary images, expanding the boundaries that divide stillness from movement, and pinpointing a unique area where photography and film meet and connect. Echoing the climb to the mountain’s peak, the narrative zigzags across narratives and histories, from ukiyo-e to the Second World War, from Western imperialism to contemporary tourism, from the dawn of photography to the present day. Ascent unfolds as a contemplative visual essay, reflecting upon the capacities of contemporary digital visual media while referencing iconic films such as Chris Marker’s La Jetée. Ascent consists of two parts: an audiovisual installation in the main gallery accompanied by its photographic pendant in the adjacent galleries of our New Wing.

In addition to Ascent, the exhibition at De Pont includes two other video installations and works on paper connected to these. The Changeling (2006) and Depot (2015) likewise balance on the borderline between still and moving images. 

Photos: Izu Photo Museum, Higuchi Masaharu, Yamanashi Prefecture, 遠藤進