Installation view (front),
rice, chalk, acrylic, glitter, gold thread, dead stock military fabric, 9' x 16'
Installation view (back),
single-channel video: 60:00 minutes, sound
La’s latest work developed during her residency at A.Farm addresses themes of identity, language, inter-generational silence and labour. Often called Việt Kiều (Overseas Vietnamese), she finds herself in the pluralistic intersection of two cultures.
In Draw the Curtain (Kéo cái Màn), she plays with the lack of directional clarity and the tension between the visible / invisible. Squares are hand sewn together, resembling a quilt whose final form gives title to this installation; she leaves traces of chalk markings on one side and tangled gold thread on the other, allowing viewers to see both the façade and intimate workings.
Her material selections are extracted from fragmented ancestral anecdotes regarding her parents plight from Vietnam to Canada, [newly] acquired on her journey throughout Vietnam’s southern region. The foundation for the central work: dead stock military fabric, an allegorical representation of the mass displacement of Vietnamese civilians from their homeland post ‘75, speaks to the divisiveness and legacy of war beyond its territory. The other central material: rice, a childhood meal requisite evoking nostalgia, and functioning both as physical sustenance and as a physical stand in for emotional discourse.
Individual grains of rice are transformed into gold-like beads. Through the labour-intensive act of hand-embroidering each grain using gold thread she works to process and reconcile the disparate lived experience between herself and her family, by spending time threading abstracted Vietnamese tonal marks of her making.
The resulting celebratory emblem, made from a privileged narratorial position of having time to meditate on these notions, is a simultaneous attempt to both pay homage and question the perception of capital value and socioeconomic positioning, in relation to language ability and geographic location.