A state of suspension is something that can be considered in several facets. While it suggests a withholding or removal, it can also be the means by which something is supported. There is also suspense in narration, a hook before an inevitable ending. Melissa Tan’s Under the Arched Sky focuses on the motif of the keystone in architecture, namely, a stone wedged at the very top and centre of an arch. It is usually the piece that completes a structure and locks all other stones in position, therein allowing the arch to bear weight. Instead of considering the keystone to be the final touch instrumental to an arch, Tan re-examines the keystone as an apex suspended as the foremost blueprint crucial to construction. Her narration’s suspense is gathered in the detail of her work, a tribute to science fiction and its possibilities to alternate realms and universes.
Tan explores the motif of the arch coupled with her exploration into mythology and the attributes of goddesses, metaphorically transforming the imagery of an arch into a woman’s unseen but indomitable strength. The identity of womanhood and mythology influences this series of works, with each piece named after a female goddess. Using seven goddesses as working titles and narratives for each work, namely, Proserpina, Hekate, Diana, Izanami, Nuwa, Isis and Tara, Tan selected the goddesses based on qualities of liminality. In response, Tan then captures the ambiguity in her choice of materials in these series, by introducing resin to create the illusion of a deceptively natural texture.
Tan’s current series of work draws on the suspense and legacy of how stories are propagated. The details in her work lure the viewer to look for mythic chance encounters and contemplate another gateway or portal to sieve through time. In each narrative, the goddesses use resilient, humane facets in their personalities to overcome certain obstacles for a broader storyline to be set in place. Similarly, Tan attempts to showcase a patience and heralding of her craft to embody works that are abiding and persevering.
Melissa Tan – Under the Arched Sky