Exhibition documents, 2019

Lisa Tan: My Pictures of You

October 17-November 10, 2019



Galleri Riis

Arbins gate 7

Oslo, Norway





Galleri Riis is delighted to present Lisa Tan: My Pictures of You. For the artist’s third solo exhibition with the gallery, Tan presents photographs, works on paper, and a video. In different ways, each work reflects on art’s mediation of life and mortality.


Lisa Tan’s new series of photographs document the framed art found in the waiting rooms of two different physicians: a psychologist and a neurologist. The images sourced in these waiting rooms are—as one might easily guess—reproductions of paintings and drawings, both notable (Leonardo da Vinci, Paul Klee, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet) and otherwise. The artist says: “Some are from the office of a psychologist I saw regularly for many years, at a pivotal time in my life. And others are from my neurologist. He shoots neurotoxins into my jaw and neck, paralyzing the muscles to reduce my chronic migraines.”

     Waiting rooms are an interstitial space par excellence, harboring people with sickness and good health. Tan’s unemotional and distanced documentation performs a kind of rehabilitation, in which the notion of the waiting room becomes more apparent, as do the lives of the images themselves. As Tan says, “each image has run through a sequence of exchanges since its making. Circulating in art’s hierarchies and value systems—and then getting stuck. Stuck stuck. In the waiting room. With me. Maybe it’s the image’s fault. But I’m trying to see its innocuousness in an alternate way.”


In her video My Pictures of You (2017–19), 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.


Letters From Dr. Bamberger (2001–12) is dispersed throughout the exhibition. It consists of nine self-portraits that take the form of letters from the artist’s former general physician, following annual physical check-ups. The performance began when the artist lived in Los Angeles—making it one of the most costly projects she’s ever produced, due to the high cost of healthcare in America—and also because she continued the project after moving to New York. When she gained resident status in Sweden, where healthcare is socialized, the visits ended.


Press review

"Beroligende midler" by Heidi Bale Amundsen, Kunstkritikk, November 1, 2019.

(PDF 394 KB)



osloBIENNALEN First Edition 2019-2014


Mikaela Assolent, Benjamin Bardinet, Julien Bismuth, Carole Douillard, Ed D’Souza, Mette Edvardsen, Jan Freuchen, Jonas Høgli Major, Sigurd Tenningen, Gaylen Gerber, Hlynur Hallsson, Rose Hammer, Marianne Heier, Michelangelo Miccolis, Mônica Nador and Bruno Oliveira, Michael Ross, Lisa Tan, Øystein Wyller Odden


Curated by Eva González-Sancho Bodero and Per Gunnar Eeg-Tverbakk

May 25, 2019



Myntgata 2

Oslo, Norway





osloBIENNALEN FIRST EDITION 2019-2024 is a new format for a biennial in public space: a five-year evolving programme that unfolds over time across the city, inviting active participation with a public programme of workshops, readings, concerts, symposia, and performances. Offering residents, visitors and artists an opportunity to rethink the parameters of art production, display, collecting and public outreach, osloBIENNALEN will encompass both new and pre-existing works of art with varying tempos, rhythms and lifespans. In addition to the projects unfolding within and across the Oslo area, osloBIENNALEN will extend its activities outwards with collaborations in Norway and internationally.


osloBIENNALEN's programme will open to the public on the weekend of 25-27th May 2019 with the first set of works and projects, complemented by a series of symposia, talks and public programmes. In October 2019, the second set of projects will be launched. The expanding programme for the years ahead will be announced at regular intervals as the biennial moves forward in time. osloBIENNALEN is initiated and financed by the City of Oslo, Agency for Cultural Affairs, Norway.


For information on Lisa Tan's work, see Other Artists.