Archival Program Information
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Film Screening and Conversation

Tuesday, January 10, 2017
7:00 p.m.
Harold M. Williams Auditorium, The Getty Center

Art on Screen presents the North American premiere of Fiona Tan's film ASCENT (2016, 80 min.).

Through a gray blanket of cloud, the contours of a mountain can be barely discerned. This is Mount Fuji, a volcano with many faces and of immeasurable cultural and symbolic significance. Four thousand exceptional and diverse photographs from the past 150 years form the basis for this film. This art-film project is in essence a film made entirely with stills: a filmic experiment balancing delicately between documentary and fiction.

Many images are of undeniably breathtaking beauty—ranging from early examples of 19th-century Japanese studio photography to military propaganda photos from the 1930s, from victorious American press images to amateur snapshots across several decades. These thousands of images enshroud the mountain like a cloud, revealing and hiding it at the same time. As the narrative unfolds, unexpected and surprising paths are explored. In what is one of Tan's most poignant and ethereal works yet, the narrative slides spatially, temporally, and thematically, reflecting on the role of photography and film, the role of geography on culture, and how memory is constructed through these relations.

Fiona Tan is an artist working primarily with film and photography. She is internationally renowned for her skillfully crafted and intensely moving installations, in which explorations of identity, memory and history are key. She is the 2016–2017 Artist in Residence at the Getty Research Institute. ASCENT is her second feature film.

Following the screening, director Fiona Tan will join the Getty Research Institute's Rani Singh in conversation.

The Getty Research Institute's Art on Screen initiative is dedicated to exploration of the complex relationship between moving-image media and fine arts through interdisciplinary research, lectures, screenings, and symposia.