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Louisiana Channel | Fiona Tan: Materials Matter

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Fiona Tan discusses the relevance of physical materials in an interview with Nanna Rebekka for Louisiana Channel. The interview was recorded at BORCH Editions in Copenhagen, Denmark in November 2022, while Tan was working on Technicolor Dreaming, a series of six photogravures / etchings.

”The thing with material is that it offers resistance and obstacles. You know, they’re a hassle, but they’re helpful.” 

The question of the medium often takes on a central role in Tan’s praxis. In an essay on her 6-channel installation Inventory (2012) Tan notes: ”All media are faulty, and yet each has its own intrinsic beauty. Each camera has its own look and produces shots in a unique style all its own, each is far from perfect, some have more charm than others. But all are most definitely translations, none represent reality – what my eye can see as I have seen it.” 

Many of Tan’s works are situated on the uncertain thresholds of the imaged and real, the abstract and the physical. Often in her work, she explores the crossovers between analog and digital techniques. One of the ways in which she is bridging the analog and the digital is by producing photogravures of stills from her films, transforming her digital works into physical objects through old manual techniques.

Fiona Tan (b. 1966, Pekan Baru, Indonesia) lives in Amsterdam, where she studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, and the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunst. Her oeuvre spans multiple media, such as photography, film, and video art installations. Born in Indonesia and raised in Australia by her Chinese-Australian parents, Tan’s work regularly explores issues of global cultural imprint. Often combining elements of fiction and non-fiction, her work explores themes such as memory, identity, and history. 

Fiona Tan was featured at Documenta 11 in 2002 and was the Dutch representative at the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009). Previous solo exhibitions include Eye Filmmuseum, (Amsterdam, 2022), Museum der Moderne (Salzburg, 2020), MACS Grand-Hornu (Boussu, 2019), Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2019), Brisbane Institute of Contemporary Art (2017), Tel Aviv Museum (2017) and Fondazione MAXXI (Rome, 2013). In 2019 Fiona Tan was awarded the SPECTRUM International Prize for Photography and in 2017 she received the 2017 Amsterdamprijs voor de kunst. 

Fiona Tan was interviewed by Nanna Rebekka at BORCH Editions in Copenhagen, Denmark. The conversation was recorded in November 2022. 

Camera: Simon Weyhe
Produced and edited by: Nanna Rebekka
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2023

Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling and Fritz Hansen.

Learn more about Fiona Tan