Diana Tamane’s solo exhibition Typology of Touch explores her roots and identity in a humorous, honest and idiosyncratic way.
Artist(s) Diana Tamane
Venue De Vereniging / S.M.A.K., Ghent, Belgium
Text Nadia Bijl
Photography Dirk Pauwels
The Friends of S.M.A.K. invite Diana Tamane to exhibit at De Vereniging. Diana Tamane ( ̊1986, Riga, Latvia) studied photography at Tartu Art College (Estonia) and obtained her master’s degree at LUCA School of Arts in Brussels, before entering the postgraduate course at HISK in Ghent. She divides her time between Latvia, Estonia and Belgium. She won the 2016 Prize of the Friends of S.M.A.K. as part of the Coming People biennial exhibition of recently graduated young artists.
Tamane is showing her new work Within Arm’s Reach (2020), an extensive series of drawings made by her mother as a visual diary while travelling as a truck driver. The drawings show motorway restaurants, landscapes, cityscapes, iconic tourist attractions, still-lifes or portraits. The often generic, unidentifiable places and scenes both have a romantic postcard feel and reflect the reality and atmosphere of this profession. A recurring portrait is that of Tamane’s stepfather, who accompanies her mother on her travels. In addition, Tamane presents a video displaying the endless motorway from the perspective of a truck driver, a video that, like the drawings, was made by her mother at Tamane’s request.
Tamane’s family members have been the subject of her recent work, often taking an active role in her artistic practice.
For the work From my Family Album II (2013), the artist collected fragments of photographs from her family albums in which – literally – “touching” moments between her and her family members were highlighted and cut out. The exhibition Typology of Touch focuses on works in which Tamane’s mother plays a central role, such as in the work Letters from my mom (2015-2020), a postcard the visitors can take home with them. The front of the postcard shows a screenshot of Tamane’s computer desktop, a specific moment in the artist’s life, a snapshot. On the back, we read an e-mail from her mother in which she is offering advice about life and work to her daughter.
On the central wall in the exhibition space, the artist presents two enlarged photographs from the Typology of Touch series – fragments of her and her mother’s backs – attached to the wall like wallpaper. The close-up of the skin, whose large format creates an almost monumental impression, becomes a fragment of an entire cosmos.
The artist explores her roots and identity in a humorous, honest and idiosyncratic way. In addition to the work’s emotional and relational aspects, Tamane tries to use this intergenerational view to paint a picture of a changing society. The microhistories are a way of exposing historical, social, economic and political processes in which she literally and figuratively follows the routes from Europe’s East to West. In an interview, Diana Tamane said: “I assume that because of my travelling experience, there was a natural transition from roots toward routes. My interest in roots (memory, identity), which is kind of looking back, extended toward routes (movements, migration, transportation), which I see as a view on the present. I am juxtaposing both and seeing what remains.” (Interview with Laura Brokane for Echo Gone Wrong, January 2017). Diana Tamane’s publication Flower Smuggler was recently published by APE. This solo presentation and the new publication complement each other, crowning her artistic practice of the past decade.