diana tamane

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  1. Katerina Gregos for the publication .tiff, 2016

    Diana Tamane’s work centers around autobiographical elements, with her own family often constituting the point of departure for a wider exploration of identity (personal, social and cultural) and the practice of everyday working class life in post-Soviet society. Photography – in the expanded sense - is her core medium, though she also works with video, text, sound and found objects. Her interest in photography is not, however, limited to its narrative or memory-preservation potentiality. Rather, Tamane is more interested in how photography is used as a tool for recording family history and identity, and as a medium for self-representation, processes that have been accelerated and complicated since the advent of the digital camera and have reached their apotheosis with the culture of the selfie. At the same time, very often Tamane draws out the photographic process – challenging its instantaneity – by creating lingering iconic images that play out over long periods of time. Such a work is Family Portrait (2013–16) a compelling silent video portrait of the artist with her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, which makes the passage of time and the looming sense of mortality almost painfully palpable.

    Other works have a less existential parameter, but nevertheless speak volumes about how work defines identity. On the Road (2015) is a 37 minutes view of a road journey undertaken by Tamane’s mother, a truck driver, accompanied by the sound track of conversations between mother and daughter; Sold Out (2016), on the other hand, 
is a photographic inventory of cars, electronics and other items bought by her dad in the West to resell in Latvia. Finally, Tetraptych (2015) shows details of four different wallpapers from the houses of the artist, her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother – an abstract allusion to changing taste and working class aesthetics, signifiers of seemingly insignificant things that carry cultural meaning. Though Tamane’s work might be mistaken as centering purely on the micro-cosmic, ultimately it deploys the personal sphere and family nucleus to reflect on wider, macro-cosmic issues: historical and political transformations, working class life, of changes in global production and consumption circuits and labour conditions, suggesting those momentous shifts that occurred after the so-called ‘end of history’, through a decidedly anthropocentric and highly personal narrative. 

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  2. Martin Germann for the publication The Empty Foxhole, 2016

    About Diana Tamane

    The first time I met Diana was in Brussels, in preparation of my jury membership for examining the group of Masters students of Sint Lucas School of Art, where she was studying photography with Ana Torfs. This was in 2014. Her work at that time dealt with the notion of arriving, of how to deal with being a stranger in a new city, of her daily introspective walks, of the literal task to create perspective while — and of — being displaced. At the time I was already excited about her minimalist yet dry and humorous approach, her capacity to create an intense, multi-layered depth from something very simple, i.e. daily life, in pictures and with the sound of her own voice. At that time she told me about another, larger project she would be working on, which would be the project of her family. Hearing that one is of course a little alarmed. Photography creates ‘the family of man’, as Edward Steichen once described it, and there are many, many great historical examples of how family not only shows but essentially instates something as fragile yet stable as ‘family’ — from the Nixon Sisters to Thomas Struth, to Richard Billingham, to the great Larry Sultan (whose ‘Pictures From Home’, to me personally, remains absolutely unrivaled in this discipline until the present). Of course, the question is pressing: Could one really contribute something refreshing and innovative to a subject so loaded and burdened such as family? 

    Indeed, there is someone, who is in fact Diana. If we look briefly at what makes good art, it is of course to work with what is in front of us. Inventions are good, but if the point of escape into the unknown is the known, all the better. Certainly nothing is more readily available than one’s own family. It is a matrix we will never leave, and if we escape it, we inevitably escape in relation to it. Diana worked with the image material her family generated on many formal and technical layers, visually formulating such larger questions as: who sees whom in which way, and smaller questions, such as: what is one doing when the camera is turned off? To what extent is a skin really our last boundary, and what happens when one dies? Diana exploits every possible representation of (her) family, and transforms it with a sharp eye into an art that is entirely its own. She uses the whole repertoire of the contemporary photo-filmic infrastructure, from the mobile phone to the memory stick of her father’s product palette from the last 10 years, to the dashcam of her truck-driving mother, to email, also in order to fulfill yet subvert every possible cliché about the East one could imagine. We should not forget the proper art historical knowledge sleeping behind her approach, which she luckily applies in a very liberating, un-academic and free manner. You wouldn’t find a reference with the simple function of affirming the position of her work, as it is with a lot of art these days. In the end, Diana uses something as personal as family to say something public, close to a narration on something as large as the European transformations that took place during the last 30 years. The interesting question will be, of course, what can one do after this? But I am convinced it will remain beautiful, strange, and sharp.

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  3. Anti Saar for Sirp magazine, 2015

    Pilgutuse puudutus

    Sõnadel „puutumine“ ja „puudumine“ on etümoloogiasõnaraamatu järgi ühine tüvi. Ma ei tea, kas Diana Tamane oma näitusele pealkirja valides seda endale teadvustas, kuid mind ahvatleb see hämmastav ühtelangevus edasi mõtlema, „puudutuse“ mõiste tähendusvälja pseudosemantiliselt laiendama. Mida teeb verbile „puuduma/puutuma“ lisatud ta-liide? See muudab verbi transitiivseks (vrd: tekitama, kasvatama, istutama), aga lisab ka tegevusele korduvuse aspekti (vrd: hüpitama, plaksutama). Puudutamisest saab seega korduv puuduse tekitamine, puudutusest selle tegevuse tulem.

    Foto, nagu teada, on olemuslikult puudulik, ühtaegu lähemale toov ja eemalolekut võimendav, seiskav, kangestav, surmaga seotud. Roland Barthes kirjeldab seda paratamatust tabava irooniaga: „Pole midagi naljakamat [—] kui fotograafide ponnistused selle nimel, et „panna elama“ – armetud ideed: mind seatakse istuma mu pintslite kõrvale, mind aetakse õue („väljas“ on elusam kui „sees“), mind pannakse poseerima trepi ees, sest minu selja taga mängivad mõned lapsed; märgatakse üht pinki ja kohe (missugune õnnelik juhus) sunnitakse mind sellele istuma. Hirmunud fotograaf peaks justkui pööraselt heitlema selle eest, et Foto ei oleks Surm. Mina aga, kes ma olen juba objekt, ei heitle.“*

    Diana Tamane näitusel seisan ma silmitsi nelja üldjoontes sarnase fotoportreega: neli eri vanuses naist istub kõrvuti kušetil, taustaks nõuka­aegne kahvaturoosa tapeet, samast ajast pärit seinalamp ja äratuntamatu maastikuga maal ülal paremal, pooleldi kaadrist väljas. Erinevalt fotograafist, kes pildistas Barthes’i, pole Tamane elususeillusiooni taga ajanud: kompositsioon on tubane ja staatiline, naised aksessuaarideta, näod emotsioonitud, lihased lõdvad, silmad pigem väsinud kui erksad.

    Ühtäkki aga juhtub midagi ootamatut: üks naistest pilgutab silmi. Korraks, täpselt silmapilguks, on kaader ometi elustunud, langedes sealsamas tagasi oma ükskõiksesse tardumusse. Korraks on see inimene fotol astunud vaatajaga samasse ruumi, ühisesse ajalikku kohalolusse, mida sisendab film, foto mitte. Kuid just see eluandev hetk on – teist­pidi  – see, mis fotoliku eemaloleku tõeliseks kuristikuks süvendab. Mismoodi? Pilk on heidetud, silma sarvkest niisutatud, kuid see on toimunud just nimelt silmside katkemise hetkel.

    Pilgutus on seega pilgu korduv katkemine, pilgu puudumine, nõnda nagu puudutus võiks olla puute puudumine või – sõnamängu jätkates, Blanchot’ vaimus – puudumise puudumine: fotole talletatud inimeselt on ühes eluga võetud surelikkus, jäägitu olematuse võimalikkus.

    Niisiis, pilgutus tekitab mulle ja selle seisuvideo inimestele ühise ruumi, kuid paradoksaalselt lõikab mind nendest inimestest just selleks silmapilguks ära. Need inimesed on nüüd ühtaegu mulle lähemal ja päästmatult kaugel. Me viibime koos mingis kummalises, häirivas ja valusas vahepealsuses. Kui olen pikemalt kodust ja lähedastest eemal olnud, olen sääraseid puudutusi Skype’i- või telefonikõnede näol teadlikult vältinud: need paiskavad mind vahepealsusse, ühekorraga ei ole ma siin ega seal. Ka Tamane on kuraatori seinateksti sõnul elanud viimased üheksa aastat perekonnast eemal. Tema seeriaportreed mõjuvad kriipiva, poolelusate memorabilia’na, ent ühtlasi fotomeediumi ilmeka enesekirjeldusena. Kirjeldatud vahepealsust tajun ma ka videos, mis jookseb galerii otsaseinal portreede taustalt laenatud tapeedil, umbes maastikumaali asukohal, pooleldi „kaadrist väljas“. Siin on kiirtee, nähtuna rekkast, mida juhib kunstniku ema, üks portreteeritud naistest, taustaks telefonikõne tütrega argiseist asjust.

    Ja omal moel annab seda vahepealsust edasi ka ema nahk ülivõimsalt suurendatud fotopannool galerii teises otsaseinas. Nahk on isiklik ja intiimne: kallima keha tuntakse puudutuse järgi pimesi ning kurjategijaid tuvastatakse sõrmejälgede alusel. Aga sellisena, tuhandekordses suurenduses, minetab nahk oma äratuntavuse, muutub pooltuttava või profaani pilgu ees nimetuks maastikuks. Siin on korraga lähedane, peaaegu taktiilne kontakt ning vaade kaugusest, nagu linnulennult, üle pidetu kõrbe. Perspektiivinihked tekitavad pööritust. Nahk on kõige sügavam, nagu on öelnud Paul Valéry.

    „Puudutuse tüpoloogia“ on lakooniline ja läbimõeldud väljapanek, aistiliselt rikas ja kontseptuaalselt intrigeeriv. Huvitav, kuhu kunstnik siit edasi/tagasi liigub?

    * Roland Barthes, La chambre claire. Note sur la photographie, Gallimard, Le Seuil, 1980, lk 30.