Thao Nguyen Phan: Poetic Thinking
By Pamela wong
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.