Diana Tamane. From my Family Album II. 2013. Inkjet print. 20×20 cm.

Diana Tamane (1986) is a Latvian-born artist, often using her family members and herself as the leading characters in her art. The personal dimension in the stories about Eastern European life allows for generalisations about how identity in the region has been shaped during the transitional period. Tamane mainly works with photo and video, while also being interested in the medium of photography, its meanings and conventions.

Tamane’s first solo exhibitions took place at Y-gallery in Tartu (2012, 2013), and already back then the artist focused on relationships in the family, depicting her own relatives. “From My Family Album II” (2013) displayed photos found in an album, focusing on touch between the artist and other members of her family and creating an intimate series. Tamane’s photo series “Typology of Touch“ (2015) also looked at intimacy and touch, consisting of magnified macro photos of her own, her mother’s, grandmother’s and great grandmother’s skin. The video series “Family Portrait” (since 2013) also depicts the female line of the family. Every time Tamane returns to Riga, she sits together with her mother, grandmother and great grandmother on the sofa and looks at the camera for a few minutes. In 2016 the artist’s great grandmother passed away, so the number of people in her photos has decreased.

Several of Tamane’s series show everyday life in Eastern Europe in the 1990s. The artist cleverly highlights the patterns of inequality, becoming evident in the simple lives of simple people. The video work “On the Road“ (2015) follows the artist’s mother, a long-distance driver on route in France. After her business went bankrupt, the artist’s mother re-trained as a long distance driver – the giant red and white semi-trailer truck is also depicted in the photo “Mom” (2016). The project “Sold out” (2016) is a collection of sales photos made by Tamane’s father, showing cars that he has brought from Germany to Latvia to be sold over the years. Placing the sales photos in the context of an art exhibition is characteristic of Tamane’s practice that questions the hierarchy between art and everyday photos.

The photo series “Flower Smuggler“ (2017) tells the story of the artist’s grandmother being detained on the border of Latvia and Russia, when she was taking flowers to her grandfather’s grave, located in historically Latvian territory that became part of Russia after Latvia regained independence. Tamane also uses her family album in the project “Blood Pressure” (2016), where she displays family photos in the back of which her great grandmother had written her blood pressure reading. So the backside of the photo had become more important for her grandmother than the photo itself.

At the show “Commissions” (2019) the artist exhibited photos from the walls of her relatives’ homes and five “commissions” the artist had made for her family – for example, a panorama of Riga Tamane had photographed for her father. With the show Tamane asked how is photography perceived by people who are not part of the international art world and what are the criteria for considering some photos to be artworks and others not.

Diana Tamane graduated from Tartu Art College (BA) and LUCA School of Art in Brussels (MA), she has been artist-in-residence at HISK in Ghent, and she is based in Tartu. At the 2017 Foto Tallinn art fair Tamane’s works were selected among pieces to be gifted to international art collections. She has won the Friends of the S.M.A.K. Prize and the residency prize of the Kim? Contemporary Art Center in Riga (2019), allowing her to work at the Artport Residency in Tel Aviv. She has had solo exhibitions at S.M.A.K. in Ghent (curated by Nadia Bijl, 2020), ISSP Gallery in Riga (curated by Evita Goze, 2019), Sint-Lukas Gallery in Brussels (together with Mark Raidpere, 2017), Surplus Art Space in Wuhanis (curated by Lu Mingjun, 2017),Kim? Contemporary Art Center in Riga (2016), Tartu Art House (2015). She has participated at the festival Survival Kit 10.1 in Riga (curated by Solvita Krese, Inga Lāce, Àngels Miralda, 2019), the 1st Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art (curated by Katerina Gregos, 2018), and the Kathmandu Triennale (curated by Philippe Van Cauteren, 2017).

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Selected projects

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