HBAA Walk & Talk | Thảo-Nguyên PHAN: Behind the Silence

Venue: 1F, Rockbund Art Museum
Speaker: Thảo-Nguyên Phan, Zoe BUTT
Language:English with Chinese translation

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About the Event

Vietnamese artist Thao Nguyen PHAN has a great eye. Through literature, philosophy and daily life, she observes ambiguous issues in social convention, history, and tradition. Through a combination of painting, video, performance, and installation, she manages to blend the universal and the local, reality and fiction in a poetic and visually powerful way, which opens new spaces for reflection. No Jute Cloth for the Bones, Mute Grain and Dream of March and August, the trilogy from “Mute Grain” project, are about a tragic event when Vietnamese farmers were forced to grow jute instead of rice during the Japanese occupation of then French Indochina from 1940-1945, which led to large-scale famine and death. Her previous project Poetic Amnesia discussed the introduction of the Latin alphabet as a writing system in Vietnam and the complex implication of this historical process, which tells stories of cultural loss and gain, national amnesia, and violence.

In this Walk & Talk, artist Thao Nguyen PHAN and curator Zoe BUTT will walk through artworks with the audience, starting with the those in the exhibition, turning to her research behind the scenes, sharing previous or future projects.

About the Speakers

Born in 1987, Thảo-Nguyên PHAN currently lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City. Phan is a multimedia artist whose practice encompasses painting and installation. Through literature, philosophy and daily life, Phan observes the ambiguities of social convention, history, and tradition. She has exhibited widely in Vietnam and abroad, with solo and group exhibitions at Sharjah Biennale (2019), Gemäldegalerie, Berlin (2018); Dhaka Art Summit (2018); Para Site, Hong Kong (2018); Factory Contemporary Art Centre, Ho Chi Minh City (2017); Nha San Collective, Hanoi (2017); Bétonsalon, Paris (2016); Goethe-Institut, Hanoi (2015); Institute for Contemporary Arts Singapore (2014); Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (2013). In addition to her work as a multimedia artist, she is a co-founder of the collective Art Labor.


Zoe BUTT is a curator and writer who lives in Vietnam. Her curatorial practice centres on building critically thinking and historically conscious artistic communities, fostering dialogue among countries of the global south. Currently Artistic Director of the Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s first purpose-built space for contemporary art, Zoe formerly served as Executive Director and Curator, Sàn Art, Ho Chi Minh City (2009–2016); Director, International Programs, Long March Project, Beijing (2007–2009); and Assistant Curator, Contemporary Asian Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane (2001–2007) – this latter post particularly focused on the development of its Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art. Her work has been published by Hatje Cantz; ArtReview; Independent Curators International; ArtAsiaPacific; Printed Project; Lalit Kala Akademi; JRP-Ringier; Routledge; and Sternberg Press, among others. Her curatorial projects include interdisciplinary dialogue platforms such as Conscious Realities (2013-2016); the online exhibition Embedded South(s) (2016); and group exhibitions of Vietnamese and international artists at various international venues. Recent exhibitions include Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber - Journey Beyond The Arrow, (2019); Empty Forest: Tuan Andrew Nguyen (2018); Spirit of Friendship and Poetic Amnesia: Phan Thao Nguyen (both 2017); Dislocate: Bui Cong Khanh (2016), Conjuring Capital (2015). Zoe is a member of the Asian Art Council for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and in 2015 was named a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum.