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This exhibition presents works by Vietnamese artist Nguyen Trinh Thi. She is famous for her layered, personal and poetic approach to contentious histories and current events through experimentations with the moving image.
Her work has been screened at many festivals and exhibitions around the world. She is best known for her works Unsubtitled (2010) and Landscape Series #1 (2013).
In her last work, Letters from Panduranga (2015), extends her experimentation between documentary and fiction in an essay film portraying a Cham community living on the most southern and last surviving territory of Champa, an ancient kingdom dating back nearly two thousand years and conquered by Dai Viet (current day Vietnam) in 1832. The area of Ninh Thuan, once known as Panduranga, is the spiritual center of the Cham’s ancient matriarchal culture.
Letters from Panduranga was initially inspired by the fact that the Vietnamese government is to build Vietnam’s first two nuclear power plants in Ninh Thuan by 2020. Public discussions regarding the project have been largely absent in Vietnam due to strict government controls over public speech and media; and local communities have also been excluded from consultations.
Through a network of Cham scholars, Nguyen spent a number of residency periods in Ninh Thuan between 2013 and 2015. With each stay, she struggled with questions of accessibility, of representation, of documentation, and of speaking on behalf of the other. Thus, while Letters from Panduranga began as a portrait of the Cham in Vietnam under circumstances that threaten their very existence, it also became a portrait of the artist.
Among other references are facts relating to the United States’ destructive bombing during the Vietnam War, artifacts from colonial exhibitions and art collections, the vulgar place of tourists and the cultural policies of UNESCO...