Fiona Tan: Tomorrow
Tomorrow is a multiracial group portrait of cheerless Swedish adolescents. Lined up, the camera scrolls along their faces: a Muslim girl smokes, boys shy away, couples cling to each other, many slouch with hands in pockets, and most just stare out blankly, albeit self consciously. A large screen plays a close up of their faces, and another smaller screen, suspended in the centre of the bigger one, shows a zoomed out shot.
The overall aesthetic impact of the video installation’s construction is compelling, but the film, made in 2005 – and by definition projecting into the future – is now received by a different audience in another city. Tomorrow has come, five years on these teenagers have become adults, presumably dispersed into the world, though forever immortalised in the film as unique agents within a seemingly specific context. But these are inconsequential particulars. A similar effect could have been achieved by substituting the group with any other assembly of individuals. It is perhaps the assumption that upon reflecting on this group of young people, we ponder how their lives unfolded, but the staging does not make us care either way.
Warhol-style screen tests can be more revealing than static snapshots, but this group situation lacks context – the superimposed second screen anonymises the participants and the silence of the film does not contribute anything either.
Australian-born, Netherlands-based, Fiona Tan has gained an international reputation with her moving portraits, but Tomorrow translates only superficially to a Glasgow audience.
Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, until Mon 27 Sep 2010