Studies for Elsewhere I-IV
Image dimensions: 40 x 60 cm
Paper size: 52 x 76 cm
The four prints Fiona Tan created are presented as pairs. Each pair comprises of an image of the sky above Los Angeles coupled with a print of encrypted hand drawn letters.
Skyscrapers fade into the hazy sky above the cityscape of Los Angeles in dreamy shades of purple and blue. In the related print, Tan has hand-drawn a coded script, developed by Thomas More in his celebrated book Utopia from 1516. In this fictional travelogue More describes an ideal society built on equality, religious tolerance, welfare, and justice. He imagined that this utopian island would have its own alphabet and developed a coded written script to make the island’s inhabitants independent from the outside world.
Tan used More’s utopian calligraphies to express her own account of contemporary utopia, while spending a year in Los Angeles. A city loaded with connotations and preconceived imaginations from film and visual culture. Almost as a phenomenon existing beyond the actual place, the cityscape of Los Angeles is in constant movement characterized by its multilane freeways and high rising skyscrapers. In the related film Elsewhere, Tan documents the gradually changing light over the moving city, from dawn to dusk. The mesmerizing images are accompanied by a voice commenting on the city as both perfect and inaccessible at the same time, almost as a utopian idea. Similarly, in Studies for Elsewhere the pairing of the view above the city and the encrypted quote makes for an intriguing couple.