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Fiona Tan

Museum Ludwig

  • Fiona-2001AvLeeuwarden_bw_d.jpg

    © A van Leeuwarden

  • Fiona Tan_01_Inventory_FTan.jpg

    © Fiona Tan, Inventory, HD and video installation, 2012, Ccourtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London photo: Frith Street Gallery

  • Fiona Tan_06_VoxPopuliTokyo_FTan_detail.JPG

    © Fiona Tan, Vox Populi, Tokyo, photographic installation, 2007, detail, courtesy the artist and Frith Street Gallery, London photo: 21st Century Museum for Contemorary Art, Kanazawa

The Artist

Fiona Tan (* 1966 in Pekanbaru, Indonesia), who grew up in Australia, today lives and works in Amsterdam. She studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Acadamie and at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam. In her photographs and films the artist questions the role and meaning of images as representations of recollection, time and history. Her video projections, along with her audio and sculptural works, reflect questions concerning the identity of humankind and its individual and collective memory.
The boundaries between autobiographical and fictional narrative blur when, in Tan’s images and film installations, personal identity and cultural imprinting combine to form one unit. The archive as time capsule plays a central role for her artistic research and classification strategies at the same time.
What is an archive?
Possibly a source of inspiration and a place of discovery.
Probably a cause of some puzzlement.
Hopefully a reason for feelings and expressions of wonder. - Fiona Tan
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The Collection


Museum Ludwig keeps a high-calibre collection of photographs, albums, portfolios and archive documents from photography’s beginnings to the 19th century through to the present day. The collection comprises some 70,000 works in total. Just one year after the establishment of Museum Ludwig in 1976, a foundation stone of today’s collection was laid with the purchase of photography from the collection of L. Fritz and Renate Gruber. Larger bundles were added in the wake of this: the Agfa, Robert Lebeck collections or that of Daniela Mrazkova, as well as Russian photographs from the 1920s and 1930s as a loan by the Peter and Irene Ludwig Foundation. The outstanding feature of the photography collection at Museum Ludwig is quality and diversity. For example, Daguerreotypes set in jewellery can be found alongside pilot photographs from World War I, and works that long ago went down in photography history are by the likes of Man Ray or Julia Margaret Cameron. Parts of the collection can be viewed online at

In her videos, photographs and installations Fiona Tan deals repeatedly with humankind and with the question of identity, biography, documentation and fiction. The Photographic Collection at Museum Ludwig keeps a host of images of people from everywhere in the world – famous, unknown, by famous and anonymous photographers. That’s why we are extremely excited about the connections, questions and stories that Tan is no doubt going to peel out of the miscellaneous material. - Dr. Miriam Halwani, Curator The Photography Collection, Museum Ludwig

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