Invited by the Biennale of Sydney 2006, Fiona Tan has selected images from private photo albums from approximately ninety inhabitants of Sydney, and created a wall installation of photographs exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, together with this publication, Vox Populi, Sydney – the second book by Fiona Tan in a series that present us with a ‘snapshot’ of a country or a community through photographs collected from personal and private family albums.
Tan’s interest in the ‘vox populi’ expands her longstanding interest in the documentary tradition, in its most egalitarian form. The photographs – loosely arranged within three familiar strains, Portrait, Home and Nature – capture private if everyday moments: the birth of a child, birthdays, family gatherings, adolescence, holidays, brothers and sisters, first loves, and favourite places. Whilst recognisable landmarks give clues to the origin of the photographs and the Caucasian, Aboriginal, Asian and Indian subjects all reveal some of the diversity of contemporary Australian life; the photographs capture moments and events that are interchangeable in terms of country or origin. The reader is drawn into a seductive and popular ethnography where images of the private and intimate evoke feelings of empathy and nostalgia, identification and humour that challenge the ideology of official national portraits.
Co-published by Book Works with Biennale of Sydney.