Ascent, Tilburg, De Pont Museum
Tilburg, The Netherlands
11 February 2017 – 11 June 2017
Fiona Tan, Ascent: 11 February 11 June 2017
The internationally prizewinning artist Fiona Tan (Indonesia, 1966) is a good friend of De Pont Museum, where she had her first major exhibition in the Netherlands in 2003. Today the collection includes a broad range of her work. For her second exhibition in Tilburg, the museum’s recently opened new wing will be transformed into an actual movie theater. On view here is the featurelength film Ascent, which Tan made at the request of the Izu Photo Museum in Shizuoka, Japan. The film was presented at the London Film Festival a few months ago; soon it will be shown at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR). Ascent has been conceived as a montage consisting of more than 4000 photographs of Mount Fuji, submitted by the public or selected from the collection of the Izu Photo Museum. No other mountain has been photographed as often as Mount Fuji: from all sides, from a close proximity, from a distance, from above, at every moment of the day and in all seasons. Venerated as a god and used as a symbol of the nationstate Japan, this volcano has mythical meaning. Mount Fuji is an icon as well as a cliché, in roughly the same way that windmills and wooden shoes have this status with respect to the Netherlands.
Ascent is a reflection on this mountain that has such great significance to the Japanese, but also a study of its visual culture and a tribute to the history of both photography and film. Tan combined the images with a fictional narrative, which causes the distinction between still and moving images to shift. She thereby reveals a unique realm in which photography and film come together and interrelate. The story, resounding with the climb to the top of the mountain, alternates between narration and history, from Western imperialism to modern tourism, from the early days of photography to the present day. In addition to the film, the exhibition at De Pont includes two other video installations. The Changeling (2006) and Depot (2015) likewise balance on the borderline between still and moving images. Also on view is a wide selection of photographs used for Ascent.