Depot (Works)

colour, stereo, loop duration 22 min. 40 sec.
safety master, video projector, media player, amplifier, stereo speakers, dimensions variable

Depot, so named to reflect Tan’s ongoing interest in public and private collections of objects, is a film installation incorporating footage filmed in the depots of natural history museums in Leiden and Berlin. The amassing of specimens in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is the basis for most natural history museums. However, ‘natural history’ remains a curious term, an oxymoron. This term encapsulates the troubled complexities of mankind’s relationship to the natural world. Ironically, when it comes to collecting for these institutions, one must first kill and render lifeless that which one wishes to preserve. This recent commission builds upon several of Tan’s recent works that expose collections and archives, calling into question the ways in which they are used to represent and interpret history and mankind’s place in the world.


Voice-over spoken by Andrew Bennett

The work was commissioned by the BALTIC, Gateshead

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