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Dodge and/or Burn

Notes on Dodge and/or Burn Lisa Tan, Accelerator, Stockholm Curator: Therese Kellner September 16, 2023 - February 11, 2024

Installation view, Lisa Tan, Dodge and/or Burn, Accelerator, Stockholm, Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger/Accelerator

On a flight to the U.S last week, I picked up Joan Didion’s Blue Nights to read it again. Once I finish the book, a bland-looking Danish man in a newlywed couple seated next to me ask me about the book. We get engaged in a sympathetic conversation and I’m intrigued by his line of work and ask him every possible apt question “in the book” about it; Who’s your demographic? What’s the competition like on the market? Have you ever been headhunted? We laugh at the end of the conversation about how the cliché of not judging a book by the cover proves so terribly poignant when observing a person next to you on a flight, and how we’d never in a million years thought the other to do in life what he does. Watching Lisa Tan’s new film in Dogde and/or Burn at Accelerator, I’m struck by a sense of familiarity and the physical sensation of being on an airplane, the intimacy it inherently informs, and being in full anticipation of a certain moment beginning to arrive. When her voice softly but matter-of-factly charts the route of incoming planes to LAX, over L.A, from every direction, and making, or managing to make the perfect linear way in from East sound poetical despite trivial, I cannot not think of Joan Didion. That same sentiment, as with Joan, of being engrossed in and encapsulated by an astute voice, having a small (but undefinably big) human experience instilled to you, in the ordinary instant. The spatial narrative/display of Lisa Tan’s first major solo exhibition in Sweden (the aftershock is that it took this many years for it to happen) varyingly alludes to two “in-between” transit spaces; airport terminals and waiting lounges at healthcare facilities. Everything is kept as sparse and as non-literal as possible; no set decor props; no token plastic plant or row of waiting room chairs. The signifier of the waiting room comes with mediations and reproductions of “waiting room art” that testifies of how art often will have gone through a debasing value spiral by the time it lands there and catches your eye (or perhaps and most likely - not at all). A “sad” evolution from its original condition to “cheap” poster art.

Installation view, Lisa Tan, Dodge and/or Burn, Accelerator, Stockholm, Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger/Accelerator

Lisa Tan makes such a point at the beginning of the press viewing of saying that an objective for her work is for it not to seek to be “representational” or to be “about” anything per se. I was amused and it made me think of writing something along those lines for the statement of the most recent exhibition I’ve curated; about at least not wanting to exhaust it by making it vocally out to be about this one thing over the other, when it’s about so many things and connections at once. The validity of her statement of the representational quality here at a minimum is a matter of definition and words but it’s a surprisingly and pleasantly straight-forward exhibition. Much more so than I had imagined anticipating the preview and based on her past work. Some points of entry into the exhibition are made very clear. First establishing a chassis is a graph/drawing by neurologist Oliver Sacks that charters the various “compartments” of the physical experience that is known as “migraine”. The graph is something the artist brought with her in mind, over time, and here “transferred” on to the two exhibitions rooms as the floor plan of the exhibition. Migraine is oppressive in so far it’s so individual and as such something someone like me who’s never had it will not quite grasp. It’s also ridden by oppression having always been deemed “women’s glorified headache” and because’s a “woman’s problem” also something historically underresearched in medical science.

Installation view, Lisa Tan, Dodge and/or Burn, Accelerator, Stockholm, Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger/Accelerator

If the exhibition excudes some romantic L.A vibes in its moving imagery and Hollywood casually mentioned at least once, a replica of an iconic commercial Panasonic LED-sign found in Hornstull on Södermalm in Stockholm, is the exhibition’s equivalent of the Hollywood sign. If that’s emblematic of reverie and a dreamy state; here’s the “realness”. The letters have been displaced from each other across the floors of the space with only the PA “in tact” seated above ground. It’s not said but you’d be prone to think it’s parabolic of an individual journey of displacement/”replacement” on the artist’s end. A lot about the current human condition is touched on either in passing or with some empashis, without being “the thing”. As such the artist manages to recall the recent pandemic and BLM to mind, the inaccessibility of health care, value systems in art and traces a line between invisible violence and visible violence, using considerably fresh and underused figures such as migraine and fireworks. A calmly very confident exhibition that is as immediately enjoyable as the production is tight.

Ashik Zaman


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