With dashes of parody and irony, Chung’s work depicts real and imagined worlds full of beauty and absurdity. Addressing wide reaching and seemingly disparate issues such as our ambivalent relationship with Nature, our escapist tendencies, our fates and heroes, at the heart of all the work is the modern city, a subject Chung has explored throughout her career. She states that her work is an attempt “to understand our experience of the city by looking at spatial and cultural transformations linked to economic development in the midst of urbanization.” Focusing on areas of Ho Chi Minh City that are experiencing or are earmarked for rapid growth, Chung’s latest maps are based on urban planning maps of the city up to 2020. Artist and curator Viet Le observes, “Chung’s ‘maps’ resemble organic growth, perhaps mold or microorganisms growing in a Petri dish. For the artist, Viet Nam’s rapid economic development is both bounty and blight. What happens when utopic visions fail, become dystopic?”
Presented at the gallery in August 2008 in transPOP: Korea Viet Nam Remix, the Enokiberry tree in wonderland photographic series began its story with a team of scientists in a lab attempting to cultivate an enokiberry – a hybrid of the enokitake mushroom and the miracle berry plant. The experiment yields small, furry, red creatures called NhucNhich, which multiply and grow in size after drinking a curious purple liquid. Also appearing in the first episode in August, a time-traveler called Blue Lightning discovers the classified enokiberry experiment and acquires the lab sample. Episode Two follows the scientists in pursuit of Blue Lightning. Both episodes reveal the appearance of a mysterious character called Bubble Shooter, who has the ability to become invisible, turn into other creatures and shoot bubbles at incredible speed and accuracy. Her role in the series remains to be seen.
The two sculptures and video in Wonderland are closely related to the sci-fi fantasy photographic series. The pristine, white Morning Enoki, comprising the industrial materials of polyethylene foam, PVC, thermo-adhesive, pompons and MDF, is a stylized representation of the eponymous mushroom. In across the sea of dust and fluttering dragonflies, rubber toy animals painted white are positioned on the mysterious, reflective, purple puddle that appears in the photographic comic book. Hailing from varied geographies and animal classifications, the toys are arranged in somewhat of a herd heading towards a collective land – perhaps Utopia? The video passing tomorrowland in blue lullaby is like an affected dream, heighted by the almost saccharine musical score.