Fiona Tan

This summer BALTIC presents a survey exhibition and a major new commission by artist and filmmaker Fiona Tan. Born in 1966 in Pekan Baru, Indonesia, Tan works within the contested territory of representation: how we represent ourselves and the mechanisms that determine how we interpret the representation of others. Photography and film – made by herself, by others, or a combination of both – are her media; research, classification and the archive, her strategies. Her skilfully crafted and intensely human film and video installations explore history, time and our place within them.

The spectacular new commission DEPOT re-imagines ‘Jonah the Giant Whale’, a preserved whale exhibited inside a lorry which toured across Europe from the 1950s to the mid-1970s. Tan will rebuild the 76-foot-long vehicle; however, it will now contain a cabinet of curiosities, inviting the viewer to climb aboard.

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We hold the complete Vox Populi series of artists’ books by Tan, published by Book Works. Each book in the series (London, Tokyo, Norway, Switzerland, Sydney) presents us with a social portrait of a people taken from images selected from personal and private family photo albums: intimate family portraits that capture private if familiar moments such as the birth of a child, birthdays, family gatherings, adolescence, holidays, brothers and sisters, and first loves. The series draws on the documentary tradition, in combination with contemporary concerns of participation and egalitarianism.

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