4 single-channel videos, black and white with sound, 21 minutes.
Jan. 31 – March 22, 2020
On display every night from sundown to 3 a.m. and each First Friday
Exploring the history of French and American colonialism in Vietnam, these videos use found historical footage – all shot on or before 1954, the year that marked the end of French occupation but the beginning of U.S. involvement – to consider postcolonial subjectivity and nostalgia, and the uneasy division between the “mythic” and the “real” past. Playing with the notion that nostalgia can be evoked without memory or experience (but through the experience of images and the imaginary landscape of images), the videos suggest the co-dependent relationship between the West’s present and the Other’s desire for that present-modernity.
The archive is approached through the double, where colonial sound and scenes are mirrored against each other, split, and repeated. Bifurcated screens and juxtaposition become simple techniques whereby the “real” and by extension, its historical referent, are permanently deferred objects, further diminished through the overdubbed narratives in Vietnamese or French. Much of the footage suggests the impact of Catholicism, which, unlike the vestiges of colonialism left on the Vietnamese social landscape in the form of architecture, cuisine, and street names, instead marks the body: a transcendent and mystical stain made corporeal. The historical trace asks: What happens when the Other becomes a specter from within?
For address and more info: https://raleighnc.gov/places/block2-gallery