The Silent Nights (series of 7), 2021 130 x 50 x 2,8cm (6 artworks) and 60 x 86 x 2,8cm (1 artwork) Photograph light box, photograph printed on Acrylic sheet, ironwood
The Silent Nights is a series of 7 photograph light boxes inspired by stories of the artist’s mother. It is about people’s life in the ‘60s, after evacuating from Hanoi capital to Thai Nguyen province when the US invaded the North. Those stories depict the way people integrated the nature, and how they transformed and absorbed it for survival needs. The story of an individual as well as the story of a collective. Ngoc Nau’s work constantly jumps from past to present.
Monday. Thailand and Vietnam have been linked for long. Water, wind, and fire. Either way, we can witness the movements, from creatures to humans, from forest to cities, and vice versa. Tuesday. My grandfather went crazy when he caught a snake to feed his family. Somehow he was miraculously able to burrow himself into the bamboo bush to feel what it was like to be led by a spirit. Wednesday. When did the Chinese begin to appear on our land? What were they looking for here?The treasures left by previous generations of the Chinese when they invaded Vietnam? Many question marks... There are always some mysteries hidden in the scenes that the Chinese always see first. Thursday. In the past, the dream house of the northern villagers was compartment house with a red tiles roof, three rows of areca trees facing the habitation, and a tea garden. However, these peaceful sceneries were unavoidably interwoven with waves of bombs causing the death and terror in the neighborhood. Friday. A coalfield landslide engulfed villagers overnight while they were trying to reach a compensation agreement with the government in relation to the surrounding coal mines endangering their lives. All intentions probably always exist in theirs dreams. Saturday. The ‘Tu Luc Van Doan’ (Self-Strengthening Literary Union), a group of intellectuals active in the 30’s in Northern Vietnam, influenced by European discourses of environmental determinism and urban reform, had an ideal of drastically changing the old society. Their ‘House of light’ project aimed to improve the people’s way of life. While the concept is still alive, it seems that it never went concrete for the majority. Sunday. Living long enough to earn the 80-year-old certification is the dream of many elderly people living in the rural villages of Northern Vietnam. It is a unique pride that can only be created by humans.It is a testimony of their ability to survive wars, hunger, hard work. A gift of luck given by the gods.
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