The stars were there, in our eyes

Sarah Isabelle Tan

Medium: Unfixed silver gelatin print and archival pigment print
Size of work: 32 x 23 x 3.5 cm each panel framed (9 panels in total), Unique edition

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Sarah Isabelle Tan’s latest body of work alludes to Roland Barthes’ postulation of light being an impalpable but carnal medium. As an emanation of the referent, the capture of light on a material surface is an affirmation of the presence of an absent being – one that will eventually touch like the delayed rays of a star. Created as camera-less photogram prints of organic floral matter grown within the artist’s local neighbourhood landscape, the work contemplates the dichotomy of absence and presence, a longing for an ultimately unobtainable ‘thing’. Floral matter, like all bodily objects, will always be engulfed by the passage of time as they sprout, bloom and wither. The original physical prints are intentionally left unfixed, therefore remaining transient as it continues changing and deteriorating for as long as it is exposed to light. The work once again remains temporal by way of its process; an interaction of light and chemistry. The process of the series documents the eventual fading of light and pigments on paper through digitally scanned images, like the elusive nature of memory itself and the enigmatic fragments and traces that remain. As the work dissolves into abstraction, its longed-for entirety is glimpsed and almost grasped, always already beyond reach. 

About the Artist

Sarah Isabelle Tan is a visual artist whose practice delves into the ontology of being and time, navigating between nuances of the tangible and intangible. She is particularly interested in the traces and (re)representation of the temporalities of things. Her work explores personal encounters of loss, memory, fleeting moments, and a longing to possess what is always beyond reach. Ultimately they attempt to comprehend and perceive the indexical nature of presence and absence- a perpetual process of becoming. 

The series of work presented for S.E.A Focus is a contemplation of the melancholy revolving around the transience of corporeal objects by way of its process and material traces.