Landscape Series #1 (2013)
Video installation, 5:00 loop, color, sound (or 35mm slide projection, 77 slides)
Postcards (24 pieces, black & white or color)
Framed photographs (24, color and black & white); Photo Album (200 photos)
Biennale de Lyon 2015; ‘La Chose’, Contemporary Art Center – la synagogue de Delme, France 2015; Fukuoka Triennale 2014; ‘Disrupted Choreographies’, CARRÉ D’ART MUSÉE D’ART CONTEMPORAIN, NÎMES, France 2014; ‘Media/Art Kitchen’, BACC, Bangkok 2013; I-CAMP, Muong Museum, Hoa Binh, Vietnam 2013; Jakarta Biennale 2013; Open Studio, Nha San Collective, 2013
You can watch the video by clicking on this link: Landscape Series #1 on VIMEO
As the journey starts, wide empty landscapes make one wonder what one is looking for. A mysterious object? A crime scene? Something horrifying? The scenes are getting more and more specific, but they do not lead to any concrete solution – only an injury in place of a metaphor.
I am interested in the idea of landscapes as quiet witnesses to history. During my online search for such photos, I came upon hundreds of images in which anonymous persons were portrayed in landscapes – and always in the same position, pointing to indicate a past event, the location of something gone, something lost or missing. We are left knowing nothing about the people, their specific thoughts or feelings, only with their repetitious sameness – always indicating, pointing to ‘evidence’ of something – never good. Together these anonymous witnesses, portrayed in compelling uniformity by innumerable Vietnamese press photographers, seem to be indicating a direction, a way forward out of the past, a fictional journey.
Introduction from La Biennale de Lyon 2015:
Photographs, archives and films are the point of departure for Thi Trinh Nguyen’s exploration of memory and history – and in particular the history of Vietnam. Transcending the boundaries between cinema, documentary and performance, the artist engages directly with her social and political environment.
Nguyen Trinh Thi’s work Landscape Series #1 presents “landscape as the silent witness of history”. In these images, the figures are all in a similar pose, pointing at something unseen in the distance – a drama, a disappearance, a tragic episode, something that clearly seems to represent a past or a present threat: a yawning gap which, since it cannot be seen, can only be pointed out. “The scenes are getting more and more specific, but they do not lead to any concrete solution”, the artist explains; “only an injury in place of a metaphor. Five of the photographs on display have been printed as postcards that visitors can use with care.
Abtract from Anna Rådström’s paper “The Act of Pointing: Landscape Series # 1 by Nguyen Trinh Thi”, International Conference of Photography and Theory (ICPT) ‘Photography and Politics of Photography’
Nguyen Trinh Thi’s Landscape Series No. 1 from 2013 investigates “landscapes as quiet witnesses to history”. The five-minute video installation shows looping Vietnamese press images collected from the internet and addresses archives of individual as well as collective memories. All images show people pointing at something invisible yet significant in a landscape. What might this act of pointing mean? It comes across as communicative but something remains elsewhere. The landscapes, it seems, are witnessing threats and conflicts while concurrently being injured. These (traumatic) sceneries are contemporary but the images are shown as if they were part of an old-fashioned slide show. The notion of older days is also emphasized when twenty-four images are turned into sepia coloured postcards implicating a colonial past. On each postcard a French translation of a Vietnamese newspaper heading can be read. The artist remediates and translates. What is carried across?