• Fiona Tan, Nellie (detail), 2013, still from the 3-minute 9-second color HD video component of a mixed-media installation additionally comprising framed cloth.

    Fiona Tan

    Wako Works of Art

    Nicknames, for the most part, arise from familiarity, even intimacy. As such, the pet name “Nellie,” which gives the title to a 2013 video by Fiona Tan, is a wry foil to the work’s flaxen-haired cipher of a subject. Loosely based on Rembrandt’s illegitimate daughter Cornelia van Rijn, Tan’s preteen protagonist remains unknowable throughout the video, her inner life anyone’s best guess, as she poses her way through a sequence of successive indoor vignettes, pale-skinned and beatific, her gown a blue-and-white patterned chintz. She moves languidly and sparingly: a model in a tableau vivant, almost,

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