• Issue
  • May 01, 2022

Up Close: Tammy Nguyen's Freehold

TAMMY NGUYEN, Commander of the Sea, Chou En-Lai, 2021, watercolor, vinyl paint, pastel, and metal leaf on paper stretched over panel, 61.0 × 50.8 cm. Courtesy the artist.

What is the legacy of 20th-century utopian aspirations today? The dream of perfectly planned cities has obsessed governments since the postwar era and lives on in today’s neoliberal visions of tax-free, “green” cities and freeports—infrastructural spaces that are part of what architectural theorist Keller Easterling calls “extrastatecraft.” After researching one such grandiose project, Forest City, being constructed in Malaysia on artificial islands just across the Strait of Johor from Singapore, Tammy Nguyen began imaging Forest City as its own city-state, and conjured an identity for it that draws on the aspirations of the newly independent nations of Asia and Africa following the end of World War II.