- Artist: Fiona Tan
- Creation date: 2008
- Object type: Video installation
Fiona Tan was born in Indonesia and grew up in Australia. In 1988 she moved to Amsterdam, where she trained at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, and she has lived in Amsterdam ever since. In 2009 she was the featured artist at the Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, where Provenance was shown. She has also participated in a number of other prestigious exhibitions all over the world.
Provenance, meaning “source” or “origin”, was originally a commissioned work for the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, where Tan sought inspiration from Early Netherlandish portrait art. The work consists of six video portraits that are displayed on six LCD screens. These are portraits of family, friends, and acquaintances in Amsterdam, such as her mother-in-law, a store owner and his son, a schoolgirl, and a cabaret singer. From afar the portraits look like photographs, but up close each individual disappears into a broader narrative. The video portraits, lasting from three to five minutes, offer a small slice of everyday reality. Each scene is set up in a plain style with mostly natural lighting. The sensitive light educes the detailed, soft tones of the faces, even as it brings forth the nuances of each individual room. The influence of Early Netherlandish portraiture may be seen in some of the works, for example in the treatment of space and in the way the light filters through.
Fiona Tan has above all been interested in exploring questions of identity and describing individuals, whether through photography, video, or video installations.