Home Architect Nguyễn Thị Thanh Mai at the Nguyen Art Foundation – EMASI Nam Long

Nguyễn Thị Thanh Mai at the Nguyen Art Foundation – EMASI Nam Long

by godlove4241
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Shared between two venues of the Nguyen Art Foundation, Nguyễn Thị Thanh Mai’s latest exhibition, “No More, Not Yet”, offers an encounter between the artist’s personal and collective practices. The works on display at the Nam Long campus trace the population of stateless para-citizens of Tonlé Sap Lake, who were not accepted by either Vietnam or Cambodia. In the ongoing series ‘Disappearing Landscapes’, 2017– photographs of makeshift homes are UV printed on driftwood, remnants of old buildings, or kindling collected at the last point of origin of their inhabitants. Nguyễn dyes the cracked and peeling surfaces of the wood in various shades of blue, from aquamarine to periwinkle, making the images even more gloomy. In Black landscapes, 2018–20, a single-channel video takes us through a series of dark, neon-lit sites where floating residences once anchored along the Mekong. These haunting landscapes are accompanied by the soundtrack of an old shaman’s hoarse prayer for the fish to return to the lake, making the absence of the house dwellers all the more acute – now lingering apparitions inviting us to contemplate the porous validity of national borders.

At the Van Phuc campus, the narrative flow changes pace as Nguyễn and nearly twenty of his artist friends engage with the working-class communities that once lived on the fringes of the Imperial Citadel of Hue but were dislocated as part of the cleaning up the city. after the Citadel received UNESCO World Heritage status. The ongoing collaborative project Edge of the Citadel, initiated in 2011, extends the in situ practice of artists through a collection of found objects left by uprooted families. Works like Hoàng Ngọc Tú seen, unseen, 2022, an arrangement of overlapping license plates; Chez Nguyễn Văn Hè Renaissance, 2022, a sculptural installation of five brick pillars; and Xuân Hạ Concentrate2022, an overturned table covered with earth and roots, serve to immerse the viewer in a peripheral universe where the memories of the displaced are reborn as questions around the precariousness of belonging.

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