FIONA TAN , the Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

A review by Helen Nisbet

One of the first pavilions we visited. Three sets of films were showing but I was most taken by 6 films, which at first looked like portraits depicting a moment in time of each subjects lives. I watched for a long time, initially because a well dressed woman was in there and I followed her, but I stayed because I was captivated by the individual stories being told. In the first one a girl/woman alone in a house, her beauty struck me at first but I went on to feel empty, sad and wanted to know where her family were – she seemed so painfully alone. Continuing this strange melancholy was a father and son combo – shot for a long time in one pose the little boy seemed to be stifling laughter, but the look on his father’s face depicted  unknown turmoil, poverty? Displacement? I’m not sure. There is a beautiful moment in this portrait where he little boy is taking a bag of rice from a shelf, the display collapses slightly, it seems so laboured and awkward – a child being watched. The beauty in this moment was mimicked for me in my favourite piece at the Arsenale.

Fiona Tan , Video installation at the Dutch Pavillion
Fiona Tan , Video installation at the Dutch Pavillion

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