Fiona Tan @ GOMA

Article by Rosamund West | 19 Apr 2010
  • Fiona Tan, Tomorrow, 2005

Those who have witnessed Fiona Tan’s subtle, multi-layered and enthralling Disorient, representative of the Netherlands at 2009’s Venice Biennale, will be disappointed by her showing at Glasgow International. Disorient engaged with the history of the city to revisit the tale of Marco Polo and weave it into an epic work of culture and globalisation, presenting as many questions as it did answers. In comparison, Tomorrow comes across as a very simplistic work, the visual equivalent of a knock-knock joke.

Presented in the main hall of the Gallery of Modern Art in Exchange Square, Tan’s display does at least look impeccable. Consisting of two screens, a small suspended one on which plays a zoomed-out shot hanging before a large freestanding one showing a close-up, allowing the viewer to walk between the two and presumably experience both perspectives. The subjects of the video are the multi-racial pupils of a Swedish school, lined up and filmed with a lingering tracking shot. Tomorrow, you see, we will all be living in multi-racial societies. It would probably be quite difficult to find anyone who was surprised by that information.

Tomorrow is a strange choice by the curators. The work dates from 2005, and has been shown elsewhere before. The artist has also, very visibly on the international art stage, moved on to make more ambitious and nuanced works. That this is a major exhibit of Glasgow International, in the flagship space where two years ago stood Jim Lambie’s vast intervention of coloured tape and sculpture clusters, seems to sell the festival as a whole short.