Food For Thought

Filter By Sets
all photos presented works installation views
Last Supper Dining Set, 1999
2009
wood, canvas, food residue
dimensions variable
Last Supper Dining Set, 1999
(performance view)
Last Supper Dining Set, 1999
(performance view)
Last Supper Dining Set, 1999
(performance view)
Last Supper Dining Set, 1999
(installation view)
Last Supper Dining Set, 1999
(installation view)
Vai tas ir košers?
2009
acrylic paint on record, record player
dimensions variable
Maupassant: Diary of a Madman (Complete Text)
2008
rice kernels, ink, mylar
12.7 x 8.89 x 0.64 cm
Hawthorne: Scarlet Letter (First Chapter)
2008
rice kernels, ink, mylar
12.7 x 8.89 x 0.64 cm
Stevenson: Treasure Island (Last Chapter)
2008
rice kernels, ink, mylar
12.7 x 8.89 x 0.64 cm
Twain: Prince and the Pauper (First Chapter)
2008
rice kernels, ink, mylar
12.7 x 8.89 x 0.64 cm
Verne: Journey to the Center of the Earth (Last Chapter)
2008
rice kernels, ink, mylar
12.7 x 8.89 x 0.64 cm
Wells: Invisible Man (First Chapter)
2008
rice kernels, ink, mylar
12.7 x 8.89 x 0.64 cm
Cellini: Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini (Last Chapter)
2008
rice kernels, ink, mylar
12.7 x 8.89 x 0.64 cm
Last Supper in Babel
2009
acrylic paint, styrofoam, ceramic plates, wood table, canvas
dimensions variable
Last Supper in Babel
(installation view)
Last Supper in Babel
(detail)
Last Supper in Babel
(detail)
Last Supper in Babel
(detail)
Be Well... and Be Gone
2009
acrylic, paint, styrofoam, cake stand
dimensions variable
Thanks for Nothing
2009
acrylic, paint, styrofoam, cake stand
dimensions variable
Who the Fuck is Virginia Zabriskie?
2009
acrylic, paint, styrofoam, cake stand
dimensions variable
Call me... 347.791.1279
2009
acrylic, paint, styrofoam, cake stand
dimensions variable
Chuc mung nam map
2009
acrylic, paint, styrofoam, cake stand
dimensions variable
Welcome to Heaven. Now go to Hell
2009
acrylic, paint, styrofoam, cake stand
dimensions variable
Cuu toi
2009
acrylic, paint, styrofoam, cake stand
dimensions variable
Stolnar Stundir (Stolen Moments)
2006
digital video of mixed media performance, Reykjavik, Iceland
40 minutes (edition of 2 + 1 AP)
HNH Bean Bag Chair, 1975
2009
silkscreen, rice grains bag, stuffing; edition of 40
100 x 60 x 20 cm

SYNOPSIS

As the idiom asserts, Food for Thought stimulates our intellect, encouraging an engagement with art that appears to be actual food.  Hand-decorated ‘cakes’ with personalized text, writing on ‘spaghetti and meatball’ plates and small, transparent mylar bags filled with tiny rice grains bearing words feature in the show.  Deceptively frivolous and playful and brimming with wry humor, the works raise questions about our notions of food as language and the symbolic inference bestowed upon it.

The script on the trompe l’oeil cakes (Be Well.. and Be Gone; Welcome to Heaven. How go to Hell; and so on) seems to mock our tradition of marking occasions with celebratory cakes by turning mundane, bizarre or even rude words and thoughts into causes for commemortion.

The 12 spaghetti and meatbass pieces reveal an imagined dinner conversation through noodles.  Laid out on a long wooden table, the works appear to engage in vapid banter, albeit in a dozen languages.  While referencing The Last Supper (¿Dónde está Jesús?), Nguyen tosses in questions such as Wie stands im Speil? (What was the score?) and Não há meninas? (No girls?) into the absurd conversation.

In his Library series (2007 – present), Nguyen faithfully copied word for word entire chapters of books from his own library onto small kernels of rice.  The rice ‘books’ seem almost like fetishes – obsessive transcriptions of literature neatly packaged and catalogued.  Subverting the writers’ prose, the rice ‘books’ disregard all hierarchy in the collected word – articles like ‘the’ and ‘a’ and prepositions such as ‘on’ and ‘with’ carry equal weight as more charged, descriptive words – there is no hierarchy in their position.  Full of potential, the words are both neutralized and sacred, acknowledging both the futility and power of language.

In the video projection Stolen Moments (2006), which documents a performance where the artist buried a time capsule of stolen items in an undisclosed location in Iceland, the viewer is blocked from approaching the protagonist by a barricade of rice bags.  The barrier may prevent us from approaching the protagonsist by a barricade of rice bags.  The barrier may prevent us from moving in too closely to the scene, but as observers we are guilty of abetting the crime.

Nguyen teases us with unobtainable temptations: the food you can’t eat; the books you can’t read; the buried treasures that can never be uncovered.