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Philadelphia Museum of Art announce Live Cinema/Fiona Tan: Inventory

Philadelphia Museum of Art presents Live Cinema/Fiona Tan: Inventory on December 14, 2013–March 23, 2014, as part of the Live Cinema series the North American premiere of Inventory, the latest work by internationally renowned artist Fiona Tan. Inventory, an installation consisting of six films and videos projected on a wall as a large-scale montage accompanied by an instrumental soundtrack, explores the antiquities collection and unique architectural spaces of Sir John Soane’s Museum in London. Jointly commissioned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and MAXXI—the National Museum of the 21st Century Arts in Rome—Inventory represents another step in Tan’s investigation of time, memory, and place.

Fiona Tan, Inventory (still), 2012. Video. Courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London.
Fiona Tan, Inventory (still), 2012. Video. Courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London.
For Tan, Sir John Soane’s Museum is a fascinating subject, one that spurs questions about the function of museums and the motivations behind collecting. Inventory portrays the London home of Soane (British, 1753–1837), a neoclassical architect who turned his residence into an architectural masterpiece filled with artifacts from classical antiquity. Tan’s work bears testimony to the human impulse to preserve and immortalize the past, and also oneself, through collecting. The work also demonstrates the resilience of film in the lexicon of contemporary art as a medium unrivaled in its engagement with the progression of time.

The title of the work refers not only to the lists used to keep track of the number and location of objects in collections like Soane’s, but also the artist’s attempt at cataloguing the various formats she has worked in during her career (Super 8, 16, and 35 millimeter film, and analog, digital, and high-definition video). Each medium has its own resolution, depth, and dimension, capturing the same objects and spaces in different ways.

With its simultaneous projections that make it impossible to focus on all six moving images at once, the installation heightens the sense of disorientation visitors might experience upon entering the strange, compressed spaces of the antiquities galleries in Sir John Soane’s Museum. In the projected images, convex mirrors distort the physical space, and shots of clustered displays of similar artifacts are repeated, underlining the sense of dislocation.

Public event
In Dialogue: Fiona Tan and Carlos Basualdo
Wednesday, December 11, 6:30–7:30pm
Location: Gallery 299, second floor
Free after pay what you wish admission

This exhibition is generously supported by Kimberley Gray. Additional support is provided by the Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam, and by public funds from the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York. Realization of Inventory was made possible through the Philadelphia Museum of Art with generous support from the Wyncote Foundation. Additional support for the production provided by the Leo Katz Collection, Bogotá, Colombia.

Live Cinema is a series that explores video and film by a diverse group of local, national, and international artists. In the last few decades, an increasing number of contemporary artists have used these formats in dialogue with the early video and Super-8 practices of the sixties and in the tradition of experimental filmmaking. Each program of the Live Cinema series focuses on a specific aspect of this work in order to map and analyze this important facet of contemporary art production.

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The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the largest museums in the United States, with a collection of more than 227,000 works. At the core of its modern and contemporary art holdings are significant works by such celebrated artists as Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, Fernand Léger, and Joan Miró, as well as the largest and most important collection of work by Marcel Duchamp. The Museum’s expanding contemporary roster includes major works by Cy Twombly, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, and Bruce Nauman. The Film and Video Gallery in the modern and contemporary wing showcases exemplary work in the field. Additionally, the Anne d’Harnoncourt Sculpture Garden currently features works by Sol LeWitt, Ellsworth Kelly, Franz West, Claes Oldenburg, and Thomas Schütte, as well as a series of sculptures by Isamu Noguchi installed as part of the garden’s inaugural exhibition.

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Julien Levy Gallery, Perelman Building
2525 Pennsylvania Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10am–5pm;
closed Christmas Day