Education of a Poet is a long-term project by artist Thao-Nguyen Phan that investigates the concept of “Education” and what it could be, socially and poetically. Draws from the artist’s personal experience with Vietnamese educational system and her research about Alexandre de Rhodes and the writing system that is initiated by Rhodes and the others, Thao-Nguyen Phan constructed a fictional school named after Alexandre de Rhodes (1591 – 1660), a French Jesuit missionary popularly believed to be the father of ‘Chữ Quốc Ngữ’ (the Romanized alphabetical writing system now officially used in Vietnam). In this project, video, installation, paintings and drawings are collaged to each other, creating scenes in an imaginary institution that is playful and lyrical, yet at the same time self-reflective and metaphorical.
Each artwork can be considered as a set of experiment, similar to the way different educational methods are experimented on children and youths. Drawing on found book pages, oil painting on X-ray film backing, installation with old bee boxes, sculpture made from white chalks and video work, each work is different in term of materiality yet is conceptually coherent.
Education of a Poet investigates a model of education that is designed for totalitarian purposes. By doing so, it questions the factuality of socially accepted myths in textbook and state-controlled media, of how collective memory and personal experience can be manipulated by educational methods. It is the artist’s attempt to propose multiple perceptions of comprehending information.