Galerie Quynh is pleased to present at its two locations new and recent work by Tiffany Chung, one of Vietnam’s most prominent contemporary artists. The much-anticipated shows are part of a larger, ongoing series of works entitled The Galápagos Project, which confronts the current wreckage of our world by examining the aftermath of colonization and modernization. Deriving from Chung’s studies on the decline and disappearance of towns and cities due to deindustrialization, demographic change, land development, environmental catastrophe and extreme climate impact, the work investigates the complexity of urban progress and transformation in developing and post-industrial countries.
Based on research in collaboration with Erik Harms, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Yale University, an archaeology project for future remembrance reflects on Thu Thiem, the 657-hectare master-planned new urban area in Ho Chi Minh City over the Saigon River, just a stone’s throw from the downtown gallery. Harms states, “Chung’s ‘archaeology of future remembrance’ sifts through the rubble of development to recapture voices and social spaces which have been rendered invisible by the transformation of a city. It is not a project of nostalgia but of remembrance, uncovering, like an archaeologist, traces and buried fragments of civilization.”
At the De Tham gallery, Chung will present The Galápagos Project: on the brink of our master plans. Two new maps will be unveiled: one based on flood prediction of Ho Chi Minh City in 2050; the other on defunct coal mines in Yamaguchi. Also showing will be a two-channel video installation portraying an allegorical fantasy imagining the end of the human race. In addition, Chung will exhibit her widely acclaimed ‘floating town’ that premiered at the Singapore Biennale in 2011. This will be the first showing of the ambitious installation in Vietnam. Titled stored in a jar: monsoon, drowning fish, color of water, and the floating world, the work was created in response to the extreme flood prediction in 2050 of Ho Chi Minh City and the lower Mekong basin and the rising of sea levels due to global warming. Constructing an ‘alternative urbanism’ based on existing vernacular architectural designs of floating villages such as Tonle Sap Lake (Cambodia), Halong Bay (Vietnam), Sanglaburi (Thailand), Srinagar (India), and traditional farmhouses in Gifu and Yamaguchi, Japan, Chung has modified the architectural styles to build a 1:50 scale model of a ‘floating town’.
Solar panels, rainwater harvesting system, vertical and rooftop gardens, and floating rice paddies appear to be inspired by arcology, an architectural design movement that seeks to combine architecture and ecology in responding to global environmental issues. However, moving beyond those basic principles, the work in fact examines failed utopias by questioning the self-sustainability and effectiveness of arcology. As a form of comparative global ethnography, the work attempts to reveal how vernacular architecture and arrangement of these communities could be a more fluid form of urban planning; that arcological principles have already existed in their ways of life.