Dodge and/or Burn
This autumn, Accelerator presents the first institutional solo exhibition in Sweden by Stockholm-based artist Lisa Tan. For the exhibition Dodge and/or Burn, Tan looks at the intersection between the nervous system and interior life as a way to examine the operations of art, uncertainty and the formation of the self. Tan’s underlying interest is in the transformative potential that arises when one’s awareness is marked by a crisis.
About the exhibition
Dodge and/or Burn presents both new and existing works that for this context act together in a unified gesture. The visitor is invited to direct her own path through a system of open walls built for the exhibition, creating porous zones for a selection of images, objects, sounds and video works.
The exhibition is grounded in an illustration by famed neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks of the physiological organization of migraines. Instead of the graph it is meant to be, Tan sees Sacks’ drawing as an architectural floor plan and superimposes it on Accelerator’s own. The merging becomes the basis for the new site-specific installation Promise or Threat, 2023, which spreads over both gallery spaces.
Tan uses a neurological disorder as metaphor in an experiential way to animate her persistent curiosity in subjectivity and representation. In the artist’s own words, “art, like illness—in its dissonance and suspension has the ability to transform the way we understand ourselves, our desires.”
In this exhibition, Dodging and burning—the photography technique that manipulates exposure to either lighten or darken areas of an image—shares the verbs’ other meanings related to quick movement, all-consuming heat and exhaustion.
After a worldwide emergency that has shifted character into other threats one of the central questions raised at Accelerator this fall will be: How is the individual subject formed at this moment in time, given its iteration of violence and its compelling affects?
Works in the exhibition
Promise or Threat, 2023
The artist is prompted by the common assumption that a migraine is nothing more than a glorified headache. The American writer Joan Didion (1934– 2021) described how hers left her “insensible to the world” several days a month. British neurologist Oliver Sacks (1933–2015) made a diagram in 1970 to describe this neurological disorder. Tan has used this diagram for the installation Promise or Threat (2023) as the exhibition’s organising principle with walls built by standard wood studs that create a series of room-like spaces over both galleries.
Dodge and Burn, 2021–23
Consisting of two separate monitors and three different sound channels, the video installation Dodge and Burn tracks the artist’s consecutive attempts to film fireworks on the Fourth of July, the American Independence Day, from the vantage point of a passenger on a commercial airliner destined for Los Angeles. The work has developed as a way to grapple with sensory overload and the varied proximity of an individual to violence and exploitation in current times.
What if language and its established symbols are dislocated? Tan wants to foreground our perception of the processes of consciousness, through the particular and odd feeling of when something or someone is familiar yet unplaceable. The piece consists of nine blue characters fabricated as commercial signage, appearing in various places within the exhibition space.
Letters From Dr. Bamberger, 2001–2012
Letters From Dr. Bamberger consists of nine letters received from the artist’s former general physician, following annual physical check-ups. The artist regards the letters as a series of commissioned portraits made from language that dryly depicts the state of a body and that also conveys an intimacy developed over successive years of being examined by a doctor, which is an unusual, privileged occurrence within the dysfunctional and costly American healthcare system. The piece began when Lisa Tan lived in Los Angeles. It continued to be produced after she moved to New York in 2005. It’s when she gained Swedish resident status that the work and the visits ended since healthcare is socialised in Sweden.
Waiting Room series, 2019
Waiting Room series, 2023
The photographs document the framed art found in the waiting rooms of three separate physicians: two psychoanalysts and a neurologist. The images sourced from these waiting rooms are reproductions of paintings and drawings, both notable and otherwise.
A waiting room can be perceived as a spatial limbo. A level of uncertainty is often present in this space, as it harbours the wait prior to a treatment or a diagnosis. The images are displaced through this unemotional and distanced photographic documentation and hung in a gallery setting. Each image has run through a sequence of exchanges since its making, circulating in art’s hierarchies and value systems—and museum gift shops—before ending up in the waiting room. The dislocation is an examination of how waiting rooms tend to neutralise the images held within them and vice versa.
About Lisa Tan
The work of Lisa Tan is imbued with personal narrative and is marked by material and conceptual precision. It takes the form of installation, photography, video, writing and other gestures. She is currently Professor of Art at Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm. Her work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions and screenings at institutions such as Kunstinstituut Melly, Rotterdam (2022), Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2021), Tabakalera, San Sebastian (2021), Whitechapel Gallery, London (2020), MIT List Center (2017), Kunsthall Trondheim (2017), ICA Philadelphia (2016). She was included in The Ghost Ship and the Sea Change, the 11th Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (GIBCA) (2021), Why Not Ask Again? the 11th Shanghai Biennale (2016), Surround Audience, the Triennial exhibition at the New Museum (2015).
Lisa Tan, Artist
An earlier iteration of Dodge and Burn was produced by and for a solo exhibition at The Athenaeum in Athens, Georgia (2021). Works in the exhibition are courtesy of the artist and Galleri Riis, Oslo.
Exhibition team Accelerator
Therese Kellner, Curator
Richard Julin, Artistic Director
Liza Savchukova, Intern