Fiona Tan is best known for expertly produced and visually rich photography, film and video and her artworks explore issues related to human representation – such as concepts of identity and nationality – often through portraits of people or places. Disorient is an impressive two-screen video installation that fills Gallery 1 at GoMA. It combines a fictional staged scene, documentary footage, and spoken word to explore complex historical identities, cultural perceptions and truths about the world we live in.
2019 marks ten years since The Mondriaan Fund commissioned Disorient for the Dutch pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale, one of the most prestigious festivals of contemporary art from around the world. Disorient was conceived with one of Venice’s most famous merchants, Marco Polo (c.1254 - 1324) and the city’s significant trade history in mind.
The work was first shown in GoMA in 2012. In the ten years since this work was made, the possibilities to connect through digital communications have increased. However, global politics have shifted to the right, leading to a greater intolerance of the ‘other’. Within this heightened access to information it becomes more important to separate facts from fiction in the news about past and current politics, cultural identities, migration and climate change.
In re-presenting the work in 2019 the layers of discourse that Tan has distilled into this work remind us that we live in a rich, complex world and historical memories, stories and perceptions have an impact on how we live together.