Voyages de Rhodes artist book

NTU CCA Singapore–Artist’s Book Series 

Edited by Ute Meta Bauer and Anca Rujoiu 
Designed by 
This publication is published and commissioned by NTU CCA Singapore–Artist’s Book Series, 2018 
Distributed by Select Books 
15.5 x 23.5 cm, 384 pages, 160 watercolour drawings, softcover 
With a folded map insert, 18.5 x 23.5 cm 
ISBN: 978-981-11-8676-9 
SGD 58.00 
*Copies are also available for purchase at Block 43 Malan Road, or via email 

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NTU CCA Singapore is proud to present the latest publication of its Artist’s Book Series, Voyages de Rhodes by former Artist-in-Residence Thảo Nguyên Phan (Vietnam). Published and commissioned by the Centre, Voyages de Rhodes re-assembles into a book format watercolour drawings painted directly by the artist on the pages of a found publication. The artist used as her canvas a book by French Jesuit missionary Alexandre de Rhodes (1591–1660) that describes his travel experiences and observations, including in the region of present-day Vietnam, during the 17th century*. 

Phan’s interventions in the book interweave different narratives that sit at the border between realism and fantasy. Reflecting upon the problematic agrarian reforms in post-war Vietnam that led to the redistribution of land and collective farming, Phan’s drawings depict children in the foreground as protagonists of an imagined commune where play or state of inertia become tools of defiance and escape. Juxtaposing 17th-century travel literature with contemporary images, Phan’s works produce a palimpsest of Vietnam’s history with layers of voices from the present and the past. 

The artist started the project Voyages de Rhodesin 2014 and the drawings were first exhibited in a solo exhibition Poetic Amnesia (2017) curated by Zoe Butt at The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. 

In the process of assembling the drawings back into the codex form, the project Voyages de Rhodes turned into artist’s book, whereby the book format is an artistic medium and subject of investigation. Voyages de Rhodes highlights that a book remains inherently open-ended despite its strive for completeness, and is prone to processes of erasure, ongoing interpretation, and new associations. 


*Voyages et Mission du Père Alexandre de Rhodes, S. J., en la Chine et autres royaumes de l’Orient, avec son retour end Europe par la Perse et l’Arménie, Lille, 1884. First edition published in 1653 in Paris. In English: The Travels and Missions of Father Alexander de Rhodes, S.J., in China and other Kingdoms of the Orient, with a retour in Persia and Armenia, transl. by Solange Hertz, 1966. 

More details on Voyages de Rhodes by Thảo Nguyên Phan can be found on ntucca website:

Poetic Amnesia exhibition catalogue

With curatorial essay by Zoe Butt and artistic response by Joan Jonas
in English and Vietnamese
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
15 x 20 cm, 120 pages, softcover
Limited edition of 200 copies
25 USD  

Available to purchase at

The Factory Contemporary Art Centre
15 Nguyen U Di, Thao Dien Ward, Dist 2, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam