11 Sep –
31 Oct 2020
Ideas of Utopia
Ideas of Utopia
BORCH Gallery is delighted to present two photogravure projects by Fiona Tan, approaching different utopian visions, in the exhibition Ideas of Utopia. Studies for Elsewhere (2018) refers to Thomas More’s book Utopia (1518). It imagines today’s Los Angeles as More’s remote island whose inhabitants live in an ideal society. Tan juxtaposes the dreamlike cityscape of LA with excerpts of her own thoughts transcribed in the sign language designed by More 500 years ago for his ideal society of Utopia. Shadow Archive (2019) is the realization of a utopian vision by Paul Otelet and Henri La Fontaine who devoted themselves to building an archive of world knowledge, between 1895 and 1945. Tan digitally designed and constructed a circular building to house the imaginary archive closely linked to unrealized plans from the early 20th century. Nevertheless, when looking at the six photogravures depicting abandoned rooms with seemingly endless rows of index-card cabinets, the spectator gets the impression of walking a real archive — destined to decay over time like the paper it is supposed to protect.
“Fascinated but also puzzled by his grand and impossible visionary dream, I have designed and constructed a circular building to house his imaginary archive. But in keeping with the digital era we currently live in, this utopian architecture, drawn up as realistically as possible in a one to one scale, has been built entirely digitally.”
Fiona Tan, about Shadow Archive in 2019
“The calligraphies are of quotes from a voice-over text I have written — my description of a contemporary utopia. The texts are juxtaposed with views of Los Angeles, partial enlargements from a photo I took from the window of my LA studio.”