Jan van IJken

Year of birth, place
1965, Amersfoort, Netherlands
lives and works in
Leiden, Netherlands

Jan van IJken is a filmmaker and photographer who is working at the interface of art and science. His work is about the secrets of nature, microscopy, embryology and human-animal relationships. He is working mainly autonomously on long-term projects. As a photographer, he developed a strong eye for natural light, composition and detail.


»Planktonium« (2021, 4K, color, 15:23) about the unseen world of microscopic plankton
Acquisition of the film by Museum De Lakenhal, Leiden, NL, where the film will be screened from 22nd January 2022 as a part of Leiden European City of Science 2022.
World premiere at Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival, CZ

»Becoming« (2018, HD Video, color, 06:15) about the miraculous genesis of animal life
»Becoming« has been screened at more than 25 international film festivals and received the Award for best short documentary at the Innsbruck nature film festival 2018, the Vision Science Award at Imagine Science Abu Dhabi 2019 and a honorary mention at Academia Film, Olomouc, CZ.
In 2019 the film went ‘viral’ on internet and has been watched by a few million people. It was published on the website of National Geographic, Aeon, Colossal, Live Science, IFLScience and numerous others. Becoming was nominated for Vimeo Best of the year 2019 and the Dutch TV show De Wereld Draait Door screened the film, including an interview.

»The art of flying« (2015, HD Video, black&white, 06:52) about starling murmurations
The film has been screened at more than 50 international filmfestivals, galleries, biennales, etc. and was awarded ‘Best art film’ at Pärnu Film Festival, Estonia, selected for National Geographic Short Film showcase and awarded a Vimeo Staff Pick.

»Nevermore« (2013 HD Video, color, 03:37) about the process of action painting

»Facing Animals« (2012, HD Video, color, 29:31) about the complex human-animal relationship
Grand prix short films at Split Film festial, Croatia


9th Place in Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition 2021

He published 3 photobooks: »Precious Animals« (2005) about the relationship between man and animal

»New Neighbours« (2004) about the enlargement of the E.U.

»A touch of Divinity« (2001) about religion in Eastern Europe The publication of the book was followed by a tour around monumental churches. Assignments and Funding 2003 Document Nederland, Rijksmuseum / NRC Handelsblad 2006 Stipend The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture

Publications (selected): Trouw, Volkskrant Magazine , PF, Nikon Pro Magazine, Black&White Photography, Kwartalnik Fotografia, Theme-supplement / special of Dierbaar/Precious Animals, printed with NRC Handelblad, Focus Magazine, De Morgen, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, El Mundo Magazine, EIGHT, Shots, Mother Jones Magazine, International Photography Awards, Vision, Vice Magazine, America Photography #23, Days Japan

Solo-exhibitions (selected): 2001 Oude Kerk, Amsterdam 2001 Der Aa-kerk Groningen 2005-2006 Huis Marseille Amsterdam, 2006 Screening at photofestival Visa pour l’image, Perpignan, France

Awards (selected): Humanity Photo Award, China International Photography Awards American Photography
TV 2019 De Wereld Draait Door (interview/screening Becoming)
Radio 2019 Vroege Vogels, Zomerportet 2005 NPS Kunststof, 1 hour interview 2005 Vroege Vogels, 2 hour special/interview
Collections Rijksmuseum Amsterdam John Cleary Gallery, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Representation Hollandse Hoogte photo-agency, Amsterdam