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Fiona Tan: Footsteps



@ Fiona Tan, Footsteps (2022), still, HD video installation, tinted, hand coloured and b&w, 5:1 surround, courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London

Wed, Mar 13 - Sun, Jun 16  2024

Museum of the Moving Image

From March 13 until June 16, Fiona Tan's video installation "Footsteps" will be on view at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City.

This video installation draws exclusively from films made between 1896 and the late 1920s found in the Eye Filmmuseum’s archive in Amsterdam. As was common in pre-color production, black-and-white film has been tinted, toned, and carefully hand colored. Tan collaborated with the sound designer Hugo Dijkstal on the soundscape for this piece, augmenting the originally silent footage. Tan pairs mesmerizing moments of people working over a century ago—sewing fishing nets, harvesting wheat, collecting chicken eggs, sorting oysters—with missives from her Australia-based father, whom we only know as Pap, read aloud by Scottish actor Ian Henderson. He wrote these tender, thoughtful notes between 1988 and 1990, towards the end of his career as a geologist, when Tan was an art student new to the Netherlands. This one-sided, rhythmic correspondence creates a meditative space for the viewer, as time moves forward.

Tan has explored her heritage throughout her work; she was born in Sumatra, Indonesia, to her Indonesian Chinese father and Australian mother. The idyllic scenes in Footsteps underscore the distance between Tan’s own complex history and the communities portrayed. Amongst the people depicted in the film, who shyly gaze at the camera, few are non-white. But their traces, their footsteps, are captured, as Tan brings them into dialogue with her past and our present.


Time schedule

Footsteps is 97 minutes long and will be shown on Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., on Fridays at 2:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m., and over the weekend at 12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. Tickets can be found here.