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Fiona Tan, Disorient, 2009. HD installation, colour, 5:1 surround, 2 HD-cam safety masters, 2 HD projectors, 2 computers, surround amplifier, surround speakers, edition of 4 © Fiona Tan, courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London

VENICE.- New York-based Dutch curator Saskia Bos selected Fiona Tan to represent the Netherlands at the 53rd International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Tan is working on a new audio-visual installation conceived especially for the presentation in Venice.

Fiona Tan describes herself as ‘a professional foreigner, whose identity is defined by that which I am not’. Her work will never be a straightforward search for truth or identity: she uses a variety of means to unravel processes of recollection and fill in story lines, sometimes using found footage with which to confront the observer with informal history. Through professional analysis and the poetic translation of her observations, she creates images that become symbols of the fading memory of a fast-changing world. Her installations and films are the result of her ongoing investigation into representation and the role of images and portraits in contemporary culture. Sometimes Tan’s work refers to what is known in art history as ‘provenance’. This was also the title of a recent installation by Tan at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, in which she used surprising means to translate the 17th-century gaze into the present day.

For the Biennale, a new work by Tan will refer to Venice’s pivotal position in the history of geostrategy in the time before the discovery of new routes to Asia diluted the city’s power. Tan’s fascination with geography, travellers and their journeys has led her to explore the biographies of famous merchants and the desire to acquire new experiences and possessions. Her project Disorient attempts to bridge the centuries by creating connections with both contemporary day-to-day reality and with the symbolic past that every visitor to Venice wants to grasp.

Fiona Tan (b. 1966) has lived and worked in Amsterdam for more than 20 years. The daughter of a Chinese father and an Australian mother, she was born in Indonesia, but the country’s repressive regime drove her family to Australia. She went on to study in Germany and the Netherlands, which makes her past comparable to that of an immigrant family or a child of the diaspora.

Fiona Tan studied at the Rietveld Academie and the Rijksakademie and currently teaches at De Ateliers in Amsterdam. Her work, which drew attention right from the start, has been exhibited at many prominent venues, including Documenta 11 in Kassel, the Yokohama Triennale in Japan, Tate Modern in London and New York’s New Museum. Recent presentations have taken place in Hiroshima, New Orleans, Boston, Stockholm, Eindhoven and The Hague.

Curator Saskia Bos trained as an art historian and has been the Dean of the School of Art at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City since 2005. Until that year, Bos was director of the De Appel Foundation and founding director of the Curatorial Training Programme (CTP) in Amsterdam. At De Appel, she produced more than a hundred exhibitions and her many international projects include major exhibitions and biennales.

Bos was the curator of the 3rd Skulptur Biënnale Münsterland (2003), the 2nd Berlin Biënnale (2001), the Dutch entry at the São Paulo Biennial (1998), cocurator of Aperto at the Venice Biennale (1988) and curator/director of Sonsbeek '86 in Arnhem.

From 1999 to 2002, Bos was president of IKT (International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art). As an author and editor, she has collaborated on many publications.

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Fiona Tan, Disorient, 2009. HD installation, colour, 5:1 surround, 2 HD-cam safety masters, 2 HD projectors, 2 computers, surround amplifier, surround speakers, edition of 4 © Fiona Tan, courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London