First monographic catalogue dedicated to multimedia artist Thao Nguyen Phan, whose
recent video and visual works explore the agricultural, political, and
social issues in rural Vietnam.
Thao Nguyen Phan work builds a multi-layered, visual, thrilling and
poetical body of work which goes beyond a purely historical or political
point of view and explores current questions on food
security and our ecological
responsibility towards agricultural environments. Through different levels
of narrative and speaking simultaneously of real and imaginary worlds, she
proposes alternate versions of reality. Co-edited by Fundació Joan Miro,
WIELS and Chisenhale Gallery with the support of Galerie Zink Waldkirchen,
the publication Monsoon Melody features a large array of images
(watercolors and stills from her films) and texts that provide a broad
overview of Thao Nguyen Phan's latest work. In addition to an interview
with the artist by Hilde Teerlinck (curator and CEO of the Han Nefkens
Foundation) and a contribution by Han Nefkens (writer, art collector, and
founder of the Han Nefkens Foundation), the book contains the films'
subtitles as well as a collection of essays: Thomas D. Trummer (director
of Kunsthaus Bregenz) explores the meeting of poetry and politics in
Phan's films; Pamela N. Corey (lecturer in South East Asian Art at SOAS
University of London) discusses the narrative strategies used to
produce alternative histories; and Zoë Gray (senior curator at
WIELS, Brussels) looks into play as a way of delving into serious social,
political, and cultural issues. An excerpt from a curatorial essay by Sam
I-Shan comments upon the film Tropical Siesta, while Phan
provides insight into Mute Grain and Becoming Alluvium.
The book ends with a poetic appendix written by Lila Matsumoto.
Published on the occasion of the eponymous exhibition at WIELS, Brussels, from February 1st to April 24, 2020.
Through literature, philosophy
and daily life, Thao Nguyen Phan (born 1987 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam,
where she lives and works) observes ambiguous issues in social convention,
history and tradition. An honours graduate from Singapore's Lasalle
College of the Arts in 2009, four years later Phan received an MFA in
Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
(SAIC). Today, in addition to her work as a multimedia artist, she has
joined forces with artist Trương Công Tùng and curator Arlette Quỳnh-Anh
Trần to form Art Labor. This collective explores cross-disciplinary
practices and develops art projects that will benefit the local community.
Thao Nguyen Phan is expanding her “theatrical fields”, including what she
calls performance gesture
and moving images. Phan
has exhibited widely in Southeast Asia and is a 2016-2017 Rolex Protégée,
mentored by internationally acclaimed, New York-based, performance and
video artist, Joan Jonas.