Thao Nguyen Phan. Reincarnations of Shadows
Pirelli Hangar Bicocca, Milan
From September 14th, 2023 until January 14th, 2024
The combined use of painting, moving image and sculpture encapsulates the work of artist Thao Nguyen Phan, who is coming to Italy for the first time with a solo exhibition. Hes works are dreamlike and poetic narratives that trace the history of his country, Vietnam. Environmental and social changes have had great repercussions on the lives of the people of that land, and the exhibition itinerary itself brings together interweaving visual, aural and tactile references of a practice that is incredibly connected to its country. The very title of the exhibition takes its cue from the unreleased video installation Reincarnations of Shadows (moving-image-poem) (2023). This represents a reflection on the social meanings of the country’s art history and architecture, and specifically on the relationships between artistic expressions in post-colonial contexts.
“The more I work with moving images, the more I feel like moving images, or art-making in general, have this ability to reincarnate.”
The idea of reincarnation is the cornerstone of the artist’s work; she investigates its symbols, gestures, hidden rituals, and every element that has been passed down and whispered from generation to generation and often overpowered by the piercing effects of ancient colonialism. Each project becomes a living organism, readjusting, shaping and taking on new forms. Indeed, she does not seek specific goals or conclusive results through her approach, but aspires for works of exchange, which are permeable and communicating, reflective and dynamic. The exhibition space is also conceived as a fluid environment, with sounds, images and narratives combining in a journey between past, present and future. Visitors find themselves reflecting on the relationship, so dear to Phan, between man and nature, investigated through Vietnam’s social transformations, the cultural mixing of West and East, the fusion of tradition and modernity, the local and the global.