Artist in Residency at NTU CCA Singapore, January and March 2017
3 January – 26 January 2017
22 February – 24 March 2017
Through a combination of painting, video, performance, and installation, the artistic practice of Thao-Phan Nguyen (Vietnam) focuses on historical events, traditional narratives, and minor gestures producing a refined imaginary that challenges common assumptions and social conventions. She has the ability to condense the manifold references to history, literature, philosophy, and theory that always frame her research into subtly poetic artworks that open up news spaces for reflection. Since 2016, she is the protégé of American artist Joan Jonas within the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, a programme which pairs gifted young artists with internationally recognised masters, sponsoring them to spend a year in a one-to-one mentoring relationship. Her recent exhibitions include Concept Context Contestation, Art and the Collective in South East Asia, Goethe Institut, Hanoi, Vietnam (2016); Haunted Thresholds: Spirituality in Contemporary Southeast Asia, Kunstverein Göttingen, Germany, (2014). and Tâm Tã, Hanoi Fine Arts Museum, Vietnam (2014). In 2012, she founded the collective Art Labor together with artist Truong Cong Tung and curator Arlette Quynh-Anh Tran Phan.
Thao-Nguyen Phan will expand her research on the introduction of the Latin alphabet as a writing system in Vietnam, exploring how the same transition occurred in other Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. In Vietnam, the Romanised script was first introduced in the 17th century by catholic missionaries to spread Christianity, playing a significant role in the process of colonization of the country. While official accounts celebrate the adoption of the Latin alphabet as a symbol of modernity, the implications of this historical process are far more complex and tell stories of cultural loss and gain, national amnesia, and violence.