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My Pictures of You
Lisa Tan

The artist thinks of images of Mars as a death mask of Earth, captured millions of years in the future, yet witnessed in the present. Compelled by photographs from NASA’s expeditions depicting Mars’ topography, Tan senses how the planet’s dry lake beds, undulating sand dunes, and horizon could be our own. Their striking familiarity transports her to the desert terrain of the American Southwest where she was raised. She bounces her poetic speculation off of a scientist responsible for key instruments gauging water and atmosphere on Mars.

A road trip through the desert frames questions around climate and extinction. Yet the deeper concern is with unraveling photographic meaning in relation to the Mars images, through the artist’s alternative analysis of Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida. Barthes’ seminal text on photography pivots around an image of the author’s deceased, beloved mother as a child in what is known as the Winter Garden photograph. My Pictures of You offers a thought-experiment: replace Barthes’ mother for “mother” Earth. Despite the video’s bleak terrain, it manages to transform its own pessimism into a joyful affirmation of earthbound existence

Aspect ratio 1.78:1 (16:9)
Prod. format
Duration 00:23:00
Language English
Color Color+bw
Sound Stereo
Year 2019
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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.