Speech Birgit Donker at opening Geography of Time by Fiona Tan
This speech was delivered on September 16th, 2016 at the opening of Geography of Time, the retrospective of Fiona Tan at the MMK Frankfurt.
Dear professor Gaensheimer, Dear doctor Hartwig, Dear Fiona Tan, Dear guests,
As director of the Mondrian Fund I would like to thank you for attending this opening of the Fiona Tan retrospective Geografie der Zeit. We are thrilled to witness yet again in this museum a comprehensive show by one of our country’s greatest contemporary artists.
For those of you who are new to our organization: The Mondriaan Fund is a publicly financed fund for visual art and cultural heritage. We are financed by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We offer support for visual artists, curators and critics and for museums and other heritage organizations. Our grants vary from a working budget for the development of new work by perhaps Fiona Tan, to a historical acquisition by the Rijksmuseum. Furthermore, we are responsible for the Dutch entry at the Venice Biennale; and here I certainly have to mention that Fiona Tan represented our country in Venice in 2009 with her work Disorient.
The Mondrian fund’s focus is both international and domestic, as visual art recognizes no borders. Therefore, one of our activities is our international visitors’ program for foreign curators and critics, who we invite to visit artists and art organizations in the Netherlands. Peter Gorschlüter, deputy director of this museum, attended the visitors program in 2014, which resulted in this exhibition.
Over the years the Mondriaan Fund has observed an intense and very fruitful artistic exchange between the Netherlands and Germany. Not only do we experience an exceptional interest from Dutch artists in German artists-residencies-programmes that we collaborate with, such as in Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin and Schloss Ringelenberg. We were also delighted with Art Cologne’s initiative to feature Melanie Bonajo as the colourful eye-catcher with new work in this year’s edition, as a run up to the focus on the Netherlands and Flanders here during the Frankfurter Buchmesse. The list of examples is long – we support no less than 26 projects in German institutions yearly – but I’d like to mention just two more significant solo’s with Dutch artists in Germany that we were able to support: the large Rineke Dijkstra show in 2013 and Willem de Rooij’s project Entitled, opening next October. Both here, at the MMK.
Let me finish with some words on Fiona Tan herself, who is not only a captivating artist, but also a lovely person to know. Last year Laura Cumming gave a very accurate description of Tan’s work in The Guardian. She described how a classical Fiona Tan film is ‘beautiful, slow-moving, so absorbing you could watch it over and again.’ Those of you who know Tan’s work, will undoubtedly recognize this sensation. Tan has an uncanny ability to show us images we well know, as if they are completely new and unexpected.
I warmly thank the MMK for providing this platform for Fiona Tan’s work. A platform that now enables a large and international public to enjoy these delicate and mesmerising films.
Special thanks to Peter Gorschlüter for the energy and enthousiasm he put into this project.
I also would like to thank the Dutch Embassy for their collaboration in this project and many others, such as Art Cologne. And of course, heartfelt thanks to Fiona Tan herself for letting us enjoy her work. And you I thank for your attention.