NEW YORK.- The New Museum of Contemporary Art will exhibit Correction, a newly commissioned work by artist Fiona Tan, from April 9 – June 4, 2005. Correction is the first in a series of works jointly developed and commissioned by The Three M Project, a consortium of American institutions – Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; and Hammer Museum, Los Angeles – formed to stimulate the creation of new work by artists not yet well known in the United States. Correction is the first work completed by the artist in the United States. Fiona Tan: Correction is curated by Francesco Bonami, Manilow Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.
Fiona Tan’s research into the history of portrait photography, combined with her interest in archival modes of representation and her exploration of her own multicultural background, are evident in the filmed portraits for which she is widely known. Tan uses the camera as an anthropological tool not only to document and record, but also to force the viewer to confront stereotypes and consider modes of representation adduced in her work.
Correction consists of three hundred video clips of prisoners and guards in four prisons in Illinois and California, projected on six separate screens arranged in a circular space. The video projections are accompanied by a recording captured on a standard prison-recording device, which amplifies the dull drone of ventilation fans and muffled voices and footsteps, rather than interactions between humans within the confines of the prison. Each individual portrait features a prisoner or guard voluntarily standing as still as possible for fifty seconds in front of the camera, each struggling to suppress all movement and sign of life for the designated period. Additionally, Tan employs the film technique Amerikanische Einstellung (the American shot), frequently used in early 20th century Hollywood films, which frames figures from the waist up.
These combined techniques help the artist subvert the unbiased documentary process and allow the artist’s own views on the U.S. correctional system to emerge. The title of the project itself, Correction, immediately questions the objectives of the U.S. prison system. Are the constraints of life within the prison walls, echoed in the constraints of remaining motionless within the camera’s frame, really correctional? Does the lack of human voices on the prison recordings reinforce the notion that prisoners rapidly lose identity within the system and become merely another statistic? By bringing these issues to the forefront of her work, Tan gives faces to the over two million prisoners in this country rendered invisible within the walls of correctional facilities while simultaneously creating a new genre of portraiture between the still and moving image.
About the Artist - Fiona Tan was born in 1966 in Indonesia to an Indonesian-Chinese father and an Australian mother. She currently lives and works in the Netherlands. Tan’s work has been exhibited internationally at museums and biennials including Documenta 11 in Kassel, the Yokohama Triennial in 2002, the 49th Venice Biennale, and the Berlin Biennale in 2001.