Ret-con (work in progress)

“Societies do not easily nor comfortably skip from ancient to modern, and tend to lose their historical authenticity and fundamental traditions when such rapid industrialization and modernization occurs. Coincidentally, a conflict emerges in the location between the desire to maintain pure traditions and the fulfillment of modernist ambitions. This contradiction, in turn, maybe partly rooted in the material assumptions that frequently drive modernization, along with their attendant tendency to convert meaningful traditions into materially definable and marketable commodities that are then recognized as representative emblems of their associated cultures”  
James W. Davis- Hybrid Culture: Mix-Art pg. 11

In progress shot and 3D representation until I can find a space to install the work 🙂

Vietnam is no longer an exotic third world country, yet this outdated colonial perception still exist in foreign (Western) nations to the detriment of many aspects of contemporary Vietnam, including art. Many Vietnamese artists choose to mass produce, copy, and sell paintings that appeal to tourists who hold this perception, perpetuating a tourist art market that has been criticized by art historian Nora Taylor, among others, for stalling the development of Vietnamese art.

In Ret-Con, I ask visitors to confront and change the colonial perception of Vietnam by inviting them to paint over a copy of a painting by famed Vietnamese painter: Le Thanh Son. I provide participants with reference photos of modern day Vietnam, taken by Vietnamese currently living there. Participants will paint a section of the photo onto the painting. By giving visitors this task, I ask them to directly confront their perception of Vietnam. I also give some power of cultural representation- which is currently dictated by Western connoisseurship and market- back to the hand of a few Vietnamese. 

Example of photos taken by Viet native Quan Minh Nguyen:

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