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Lisa Tan — The Garden of Earthly Delights

The Garden of Earthly Delights is a complete itinerary to see most all of the works by Hieronymus Bosch that exist in public or private collections. A couple of personal incidents brought about this endeavor. One of these included a mundane question that my well-traveled sister posed to me last year: “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?”The question, trite as it is, asks one to think of the un-mundane, the extraordinary, the no-holdsbarred— in the context of their lives at any given moment. I exploded my rather simple desire to go to the Museo del Prado, specifically to see Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, by wondering what an experience it might be like to see all of his works in succession over the course of a single trip.

The piece bears some resemblance to a timeline one might see on the inside cover of a history book.With one hundred and twenty-four days of travel, the itinerary begins in London and ends in New York—bracketing twenty destinations in between, viewing ninety-one works in all. The cities are listed along with the titles of works and where they reside. An abstracted calendar dominates the middle section of the piece and represents dates and length of travel. My selections for hotels and means of transportation occupy the lower sector.

As with several of my projects, some predilection is addressed. I am sympathetic to the notion that making art is, in and of itself, a transference—an indulgent intellectual expenditure, and thus a sensual act. Indeed the desire to dislocate myself is in a sense achieved through the very act of conceiving and producing the work. The piece has given way to a new reality—an experience that has already taken me to rain-soaked piazzas,museum corridors, heterotopic hotel lobbies, quaint bookstores, and the back seats of taxicabs. I consider this piece to be a map of my desire—a desire that relies on the near impossibility of its fulfillment for its very existence.

Lisa Tan
The Garden of Earthly Delights,

Hieronymus Bosch, "The Garden of Earthly Delights," triptych, detail,<br />1505–10. Oil on wood. El Prado, Madrid.

Lisa Tan graduated with an MFA from USC in 2001. Her first one-person exhibition was on view at Grimm|Rosenfeld in Munich, Germany in March 2005.