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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Tan Le

2018
John Tsiavis

transparency between mirror substrates in LED lightbox (frame: diameter 120.5 cm)

Tan Le (b. 1977) arrived in Australia at age four with her mother, sister, grandmother, aunt and uncle, all refugees who had undertaken the perilous boat journey from Vietnam. Inspired by her mother, Mai Ho, who became the mayor of Maribyrnong, Le helped Melbourne's Vietnamese community with training programs and counselling, all while studying law and commerce at Monash University. In 1998, her contribution led her to being named Young Australian of the Year. After working as a lawyer, Le shifted her focus to the field of technology. She moved to California's Silicon Valley and formed Emotiv Inc in 2010, a company that develops electroencephalography (EEG) headsets to detect the wearer's brainwaves, allowing them to control objects with only their thoughts. This technology holds life-changing potential for people with motor impairments.

After meeting in 2018, photographer John Tsiavis and Tan Le bonded over their migrant families and experiences of racism, and wanted to create a 'badass' and interactive portrait. The photograph is treated with a mirror coating and displayed in a lightbox. As Tsiavis noted: 'Through all these various technologies, it forces people to a) stand in front of it and b) look into it and ask themselves who Tan is, what did she do and also look at what she's contributed to Australia.'

Commissioned with funds provided by the Sid and Fiona Myer Family Foundation 2018
© John Tsiavis

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

John Tsiavis (age 41 in 2018)

Tan Le (age 41 in 2018)

Supported by

Sid and Fiona Myer Family Foundation (6 portraits supported)

Related information

The Companion

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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