• Issue
  • Sep 01, 2022

Thao Nguyen Phan: Poetic Thinking

First Rain, Brise Soleil, 2021- , still from three-channel video with color and sound: 16 min 4 sec. Courtesy the artist.

Children are carefree and innocent, but in Thao Nguyen Phan’s fantastical and dark depictions, their naivety and forgetfulness perpetuate collective violence. Often illustrated as headless figures, these children participate in cruel, bizarre activities, such as firing gunshots on a paddy field or using another child’s body for rope skipping. In Phan’s other stories, children are reincarnated into a dolphin and water hyacinths, becoming victims of the rapid economic development and environmental degradation of the Mekong region. Through these youthful figures, Phan invokes the dualities of human impulses—for creation and destruction, hope and despair, remembering and forgetting.

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