Ideas of Utopia

Fiona Tan

BORCH Gallery is delighted to present the exhibition ‘Ideas of Utopia’, comprising two photogravure projects by Fiona Tan which address utopian visions.

In reference to Thomas More’s book of 1518, Utopia, present-day Los Angeles is imagined in Studies for Elsewhere (2018) to be More’s original island: an ideal society for its inhabitants. Tan juxtaposes dream-like cityscapes of LA with thoughts of her own, here transcribed in a script which More designed five hundred years ago.

Shadow Archive (2019) is the realization of a utopian vision of Paul Otelet and Henri La Fontaine, who from 1895 to 1945 devoted themselves to building an archive of world knowledge. Drawing on their unrealized plans from the early 20th century, Tan digitally designed and realized a circular building to house this virtual archive. Her six photogravures depicting abandoned rooms with seemingly endless rows of index-card cabinets give viewers the impression they are walking the corridors of a real-life archive – yet already the cabinets, too, show signs of decay, just like the archival records they are meant to protect.