Everything Is Not Lost features the work of Christian Nguyen, Nhan Duc Nguyen, Pipo Nguyen-duy and Khanh Vo, four contemporary artists who address themes of family, loss and the intricacies of memory. These artists interpret the thirty-year influence of the Vietnam War through autobiographical experiences, narratives and postmemories. Working in a variety of mediums, these four artists confront the socio-political and emotional complexities of warfare and the events that consequently define who they are today.
These artists unravel generational memories in an attempt to form an understanding of their own disrupted sense of historical continuity. By compiling fragments of public, collective and personal memory, the artists formulate a new narrative unique to the Vietnamese diasporic condition.
Christian Nguyen is a New York-based artist whose work examines how images, upon entering public consciousness, are connected to a specific time and can expire. In his series of drawings, Nguyen uses iconic images of the Vietnam War that are engrained in public memory but evacuates them of human presence.
Nhan Duc Nguyen compiles interviews with Vietnamese restaurateurs and restaurant employees in Vancouver, discussing topics that range from favourite foods and their careers in the food and service industry to their experiences as boat people. Nguyen’s work composes the story of the Vietnamese in Vancouver through the rise of its cuisine. A portion of his installation will be exhibited off-site at the Le Do Vietnamese Restaurant.
Pipo Nguyen-duy’s photographic work analyzes cultural displacement within the contexts of immigration and emigration. He investigates the liminal space that exists between Vietnam and the United States. Nguyen-duy’s current work draws inspiration from traditional landscape painting and his memories of childhood in Vietnam during the war. He currently resides in Ashland, Oregon.
Khanh Vo’s installation is an exploration of sociological time that references both the past and future of Vietnamese refugees in America. In his work, the New York-based Vo considers the idea of the “refugee space,” a concept he created to consider the displacement experienced by the Vietnamese in America.
Everything Is Not Lost looks into the profound relationship the artists have to a Vietnam they may have little or no recollection of. While an apparent cultural connection fuels the artists to directly engage with remembrances of the War, their work argues that the memory of Vietnam belongs to us all in varying ways, regardless of personal associations.
This exhibition is curated by Kim Nguyen, a candidate to the Master’s Degree in Critical and Curatorial studies at The University of British Columbia.
We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Alvin Balkind Fund for Student Curatorial Initiatives, the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory, and the Faculty of Arts at The University of British Columbia.