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Notes From Underground
Lisa Tan

Notes From Underground connects the Stockholm metro and Susan Sontag’s sojourn in Sweden during the late 1960s, with a cavern system 5,000 miles away in New Mexico—not far from where the artist was raised. With Sontag as guide, the video takes a journey through geological time, through experiences of liminality. What’s discovered are persistent questions of violence, felt reverberating between strata of personal and cultural history.

The video was made between the Swedish general elections of 2010 and 2014, when the populist, anti-immigration party garnered enough votes to reach parliament for the first time since the party’s founding. Sontag’s voice reappears as a sound-wave, translating her words into the language of stalactites, a cardiograph, the path of a subway moving above and below the the surface of the earth. Distinct horizontal and vertical movements mingle with frequencies from the underground—and with the specter of Sontag. She answers a question posed to her on the cusp of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, not long before her own death: what should the artist’s role be in confronting a society’s ills?

Aspect ratio 1.78:1 (16:9)
Prod. format Generic HD-video
Duration 00:23:45
Color Color
Sound Stereo
Year 2013
In text Lisa Tan Trilogi
Latest screening Oct 26, 2022
Feb 3, 2022
Sep 15, 2021
Rent this work for public screenings

About the artist

Lisa Tan

Born in 1973 in Syracuse, NY, USA, Lisa Tan lives in Stockholm, Sweden where she is an artist and Professor of Fine Art at Konstfack University College of the Arts, Crafts and Design. She works with video, photography, text, installation, and other gestures. Tan is concerned with the ways in which images and language shape political consciousness, the formation of individual subjectivity, and desire. Aspects of her everyday life — such as love, experiences of otherness, loss — have all served as inspiration alongside her research into different fields of study such as theory of photography, literature, and affect.