Cartes de Visite

Ho Tam

May 7 - June 5, 2010

Totem Poles
Grand Canyon


Paris , 2010
archival inkjet print mounted on aluminum
ed. of 8
22.5 x 36 inches

Cartes de Visite is based upon a fictitious traveller/explorer from an ambivalent time. Dressed in the 19th Century clothing, the travelergoes back and forth in the timeline visiting and investigating cultural and historic sites. The photographs are the documentation of his various trips.

In the first series (China 2010) is a set of archival photographs that seem to be taken at various iconic sites of various continents. Further inspection reveals the sites to be merely replicas of the real locations. In fact, the images are all taken in a miniature theme park (Windows of the World) in Shenzhen, China. The situation presents a paradox of double takes, playing with the ideas of "travel" and "tourism." The layers and the reconstructions question the perception of time, space and identity.

The title of the work, Cartes de Visite, refers to the old time "visiting card" popularized the 1900s. In this work the size of the photographs is substantially magnified while the title suggests multiple readings.

Ho Tam is a media/visual artist who has worked in advertising and community psychiatry.

Tam was born in Hong Kong and received a BA from McMaster University and an MFA from Bard College (NY). From 1996 to 1997, he was a participant at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. Tam has exhibited in public galleries and alternative spaces across Canada, including the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography (2001). Over 15 of his experimental film/video works are in circulation including screenings at Centre Pompidou, Paris, Toronto International Film Festival, Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival and the travelling exhibition Magnetic North: Canadian Experimental Video organized by the Walker Art Center, Minnesota. Tam is a recipient of variousgrants and awards, including the Grand Marnier Video Fellowship from the Film Society of Lincoln Center (New York) and the Best Documentary Feature at Tel Aviv GLBT Film Festival. From 2004 to 2011, Tam taught in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Victoria. Ho Tam lives in Vancouver, BC. He recently edited and published Frontline: Interviews with International Photo-based Artists. He is also the publisher of 88Books, an independent press for artist's books.