The heavily textured, abstract paintings of Do Hoang Tuong and Nguyen Thanh Truc and the collaged work of Thien Do highlight the co-existence of crumbling facades and newer building structures that is evident in developing cities; the hushed palimpsests could be a metaphor for faded history and memory. Thien Do’s paintings resemble walls in urban Vietnam with the ubiquitous stenciled ‘Cam..Bay’ (forbidden/not permitted) signs. The paintings, while deceptively quiet and ordered, seem to deride and challenge the regulations proposed in civilized societies.
With their caustic titles – ‘Rice is more nutritious than gold’ and ‘Real oranges grow on trees’ – Lien Truong’s work is a meditation on the power and control that humans tend to wield with progress. The biotechnology firm Monsanto is the antagonist in these two works which reference the genetically engineered Golden Rice and the first spraying of Agent Orange in Vietnam on August 10, 1961.
The digital c-prints in ‘Hip Hop History Sampling Hip History: The Red Remix’, a collaboration between Tuan Andrew Nguyen and Vietnamese rapper/graffiti artist Wowy, depict Wowy decked out in hip-hop gear wandering the streets of Ho Chi Minh City with his boom-box. Like much of Vietnam’s youth, Wowy is striving to voice his own individuality amidst the trends being imported from abroad.
Tiffany Chung’s ‘Enokiberry tree in wonderland’ science-fiction fantasy photos also touch on issues of Vietnamese youth negotiating an identity in opposition to uniformity. Chung’s actors seem to revel in escapism and assume fantastic characters. The potential hazards of urban development can be seen in Chung’s newest ‘map’ entitled ‘migration of the ladybugs (Harmonia Axyridis)’ where ladybugs seem to infest the deliciously seductive urban landscape.
Caution! Development in Progress posits questions surrounding ideas of control, power, order and individual identity. It questions not only our vision of a new society and the foundations on which we are constructing our buildings, but also the rules and information we are bombarded with in daily life.