Phuong M. Do's Vietnam Re-imagined
Weisman Art Museum:
Phuong, your self-portraits from Vietnam featured in Changing Identity represent complicated relationships: between you and your family, Americans and Vietnamese, and between viewers and subjects. We look forward to hearing you talk more about this series and about projects you have developed since. Could you give us a preview?
Phuong M. Do:
The self portrait work was a seven year process. While a sense of disconnect from my relatives doesn’t really go away, I have come to accept it for what it is...and that I will probably not ever feel familiar with them or they with me. Having known something about my family history—though fragmented—provides me context so that I can form own sense of self.
The "abandoned photographs" project [involving secondhand shop image collections] is an extension of the self portrait work in that the personal family photographs are lost and disconnected from their “family.�? They also provide visual snippets of narratives about peoples’ lives in a time and place that are part of the larger historical and cultural puzzle for not only Vietnamese in diasporas but for those living in Vietnam. They are also displaced by war. I haven’t had much time to work on the images but I have been thinking about ways to make the images accessible to people and perhaps become identified. I think the webspace is a great place for that but I need to conceptualize how they will be presented and if they are identified by their owners, how to integrate that into the narrative.
I brought some of my new, lacquered photographs to show at Sunday’s talk because the projected image does not really show the physical sensibility of the work. The lacquer work is more conceptual in terms of my feelings about a sense of place and space. It also integrates a process that is specific to Vietnam. Lacquer’s preservation qualities...can be likened to the photographic medium and process.
Weisman Art Museum:
Thank you, Phuong, we look forward to seeing and hearing more this Sunday at 2pm in your dialogue with Changing Identity curator Nora Taylor!