Current work



Lisa Tan

Reading Lewis Hyde


single-channel video

24 minutes

Variable installation

Edition 5 + 1 AP



In this piece, a correlation is made between the Orphic rivers of the underworld, Lethe (oblivion) and Mnemosyne (remembrance) and the lines on the hand, imagining the palm of a hand as a map of rivers, tributaries, deltas, and dams. Thinking through American essayist and cultural critic, Lewis Hyde’s book, A Primer for Forgetting (2019), the artist guides a conversation by applying the rudiments of palmistry that she forced herself to learn in order to carry out an intimate portrait of the author in his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Unlike other divination practices, such as tarot card reading, chiromancy requires a haptic level of intimacy in which touching is necessary in ascertaining features and shapes on the hands that connect to one’s past, present and possible future and in arousing stories of personal and historical myth, memory and destiny.



This piece was produced by the Tangenten St. Pölten festival



Exhibition History

The Way of the Water, curators Joanna Warsza and Lorena Moreno Vera, for the Tangente St. Pölten festival




Lisa Tan

Dodge and Burn


two-channel video installation with a single-channel video version

30 minutes (installation) / 20 minutes (screening)

Variable dimensions

Edition 5 + 1 AP



It begins with a blunder, “I pressed stop instead of record.” The mishap occurs during the first of three, consecutive attempts the artist made to film fireworks on the 4th of July, from the vantage point of a passenger on a commercial airliner destined for Los Angeles International Airport. Through this evasion, she discovers how an image refusing capture reveals far more in its absence.


Witnessed from inside the muffled interior of an airplane, fireworks seen from this position look a lot like an image of war. If this is her initial, facile observation, it is troubled by the fact that moments before landing, every plane destined for Los Angeles, descends directly over neighborhoods where the militarization of the police in America was actively developed in the 1960s and where the first SWAT team was deployed. Making a connection between this history and its immanent affects, she attempts to capture the scene inside of the destructive years of the Trump presidency.


By the time the shot evades her for the third time, a different kind of violence comes to the fore. The visible shuffles place with the invisible. And we are taken on a journey that reaches for the role of images in a time of visual and information overload, sensing how forms of violence are ever more frequently self-inflicted under prevailing structures, including the condition of burnout, troubling the established limits of representation.



Exhibition history

- Lisa Tan, Dodge and/or Burn, Accelerator, Stockholm, 2024

- Lisa Tan, Dodge and Burn, The Athenaeum, Athens, GA, 2022


Little Petra


Little Petra chair designed by Viggo Boesen and produced by & Tradition, brochure printed on paper (unlimited copies), brochure holder in oiled oak and brass, platform

Chair: 75 x 83 cm x 81cm Brochure: 14.8 x 21 cm

Brochure holder: 40 x 62.7 x 12 cm Platform: variable dimensions

Edition of 2 and 1 AP



What do we bring home? In Little Petra, Lisa Tan displays an armchair that became an unexpected carrier for this seemingly simple question. Triggered by an incident in a Swedish design store, she reflects on objects of desire in relation to class, race and interior design. Viewers encounter the armchair on display with its matching pouf on a low platform, adjacent to which are printed brochures made available in an oak wood display, affixed with a sign that reads “take one home.” Appearing to be promotional material for the chair, they carry a careful reflection on the idea of home. A place that not only provides shelter but also the possibility of rest and genuine well-being.


Little Petra, brochure component. PDF (814 KB)

What We Bring Home: Little Petra, The Georgia Review, Summer 2022, Link PDF (1.1 MB)




Exhibition history

- herein between spaces, Marabouparken konsthall, Stockholm, 2023

- The Ghost and the Sea Change, 11th edition of the Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (GIBCA), curated by Lisa Rosendahl, 2022


The Basque Language in the Dictionary


138 x 181 cm (diptych)

Pigment print on acid free cotton paper in frame

Edition 3 + 1 AP



The English Language in the Dictionary (wallpaper version)


Wall paper

Variable dimensions, each panel 115 x 135 cm

Edition 3 + 1 AP



A dictionary uses words to define the meaning of words. Though in some cases, illustrations or images supplement the description of a word’s meaning. The deployment of images might reveal how some words are unable to transmit their meaning through words alone. Or, how some words lend themselves to images better than others. Or conversely, how some words have no use for images. Or maybe, in a combination of pragmatism and possibility, images in a dictionary are there to mark a thing in the world one might experience first-hand—given the right circumstances. For example: harpoon, alluvial fan, DNA. Or, it is possible the reason has nothing to do with words at all and only concerns images for their ability to describe something beyond language. In other words, the image might exist merely to exploit the word.


In an ongoing series of works, Lisa Tan takes various language dictionaries and gathers all of the words with definitions supplemented by an illustration or image. For this exhibition, she has created a wallpaper comprised of images from the English language dictionary (Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition), and two framed prints made from the Basque language dictionary (Adorez Eskola Hitzegia, 15th Edition). Amassed as a whole, the pieces transform the empirical into the poetic and the poetic into the political. They reflect a language culture’s particular concerns and values—including how it regards the function and ownership of knowledge. Is a lexicon a thing of universal objectivity or a specific claim to collective political subjectivity? Either case might have much to say about any given language culture’s history and will towards expression.


Basque dictionary illustration credits
General didactic images: Begoña Medel EHUko irakasleak prestatuak

Artistic images: Juan Mari Arrizabalaga irundigileak prestatuak



Exhibition history

- herein between spaces, Marabouparken konsthall, Stockholm, 2023

- Komunikazio-inkomunikazio, curated by Oier Exteberria, 2021, Tabakalera, Donostia/ San Sebastián, 2021



Waiting Room of a Psychologist and a Neurologist


Pigment print on acid free cotton paper in artist's frame Variable sizes (see captions)

Variable installation

Edition of 3 + 1 AP complete installation

Edition of 5 + 1 AP individual works



The photographs document the framed art found in the waiting rooms of two different physicians: a psychologist and a neurologist. The images sourced from these waiting rooms are reproductions of paintings and drawings, both notable and otherwise. Waiting rooms are an interstitial space par excellence, harboring people with sickness and good health. In

their unemotional and distanced documentation, the photographs perform a kind of rehabilitation in which the notion of the waiting room becomes more apparent as do the lives of the images themselves. Each image has run through a sequence of exchanges since its making, circulating in art’s hierarchies and value systems, including, ending up in the waiting room.



Exhibition history

- Lisa Tan, Dodge and/or Burn, Accelerator, Stockholm, 2024

- 84 Steps, Kunstinstituut Melly, Rotterdam, 2022-21

- My Pictures of You, Galleri Riis, 2019 (solo)






Other Artists


Text, postcards, postcard displays, renovation of public accessible toilets

Site specific work for Myntgata 2, Oslo

for osloBIENNALEN First Edition



Other Artists consists of two components: a renovation of public restrooms and a printed text. Using the production funds provided for a commissioned artwork at Myntgata 2 as part of osloBIENNALEN First Edition, Lisa Tan proposed to renovate the aging and chilly restrooms of the building, which houses 60 artist studios subsidized by the City of Oslo. The restrooms are single- occupant rooms distinctively situated off of each landing of the building’s central staircase; a disability restroom is located on the lower level. The piece accounts for these common yet private spaces, important within any work environment.


The other component of the piece, a short text printed as take-away postcards installed on each floor, traces a “circumstantial genealogy” that anticipates the material, emotional, political, and idiosyncratic alignments that occur between artists. When the biennial opened in Spring 2019, two of of the nine restrooms were renovated, the remainder to be completed over six months, fitting into the biennial’s ethos of a process-oriented exhibition of works in public space that unfold over five years. By the autumn of 2020, the biennial was cancelled due to mismanagement.



- Other Artists, text on postcard component PDF (35 KB)

- "Take the Stairs" by Josh Shaddock PDF (151 KB)


My Pictures of You


HD video with sound

24 minutes

Variable installation




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.




This piece was commissioned by Public Art Agency Sweden for the exhibition Extracts from a Future History, curated by Lisa Rosendahl.



Exhibition history

- Artists' Film International, Whitechapel Gallery, London, along with 18 global partner organizations

  Selection by Bonniers Konsthall

- My Pictures of You, Galleri Riis, Oslo, 2019 (solo exhibition)

- Extracts from a Future History, Public Art Agency Sweden, 2017