Mar 28th 2019
Opening Thursday, March 28th, from 4:15PM - 5:45PM
On view through Saturday, April 20th
To watch a ping pong match is to witness an intimate, intricate exchange between two people. The players are their own and each other’s choreographers, changing boundaries and possibilities, guiding the other’s body with their swings and twists. In What My Eyes Behold Is Simultaneous, the solo exhibition by Thuy-Han Nguyen-Chi (MFA 2019), the ping pong game serves as imagery for these loops of influence between people on small and vast scales, across space and time.
In Syncrisis (2018), the viewer sees a ping pong table on which a ball eerily bounces back and forth with no visible players, in the midst of a night-time forest. This sense of hauntedness pervades throughout the exhibition, as preternatural phenomena, as references to signs of former life, or as phantom flashes in multi-layered videos. Footage of the notorious self-immolation of the Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc is layered with other cinematic samples and narrated with a voice-over of Nguyen-Chi’s father describing his first-hand witness of the event and how that changed his political orientation. The stacked accounts of the same event evoke the way history comprises an infinity of traces, and that one’s memories are complex assemblages of one’s own experiences and the prosthetic memories from family narratives or mass culture.
Trinh T. Minh-ha, a feminist scholar and filmmaker, whose movies reflect her diasporic relationship to “homelands” and anti-ethnographic politics, referred to her work as a relation to infinity. Nguyen-Chi’s approach elicits this infiniteness, of uniting different situations by their synchronous emotions and exploration of personal freedom within a suppressive system. Intergrade Hole (2015) sonically transports the visitor to the Namibian desert set synchronously in the past and future where the soil has been exploited for natural resources. Linger On Your Pale Blue Eyes (2016) presents the disembodied narration of a scientist fleeing from East to West Germany during the Cold War, navigating herself with the aid of the starry sky. The three pieces interweave past, present, and future, suggesting the way history is collapsed within people and places.
Nguyen-Chi’s surrealist, hallucinatory filmmaking style asks us to imagine perception less regulated by prescribed rules. We are presented with tapestry of senses, of disembodied voices and undeterminable sounds and visions. In its dissolution of a narrative on or off-screen, it questions how narrative powers of history are sustained, and suggests how to dissolve them.
— Minh Nguyen (MA 2020)
Thuy-Han Nguyen-Chi (born in Reutlingen, Germany) lives and works in Chicago, USA. She studied History of Art and Latin Philology at Goethe University and Fine Arts at Städelschule in Frankfurt a. M. with Prof. Simon Starling and Prof. Peter Fischli. Presently she is a scholar of the German National Academic Foundation and a MFA candidate in the Film/Video department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work operates in the space between film, video, sound, performance and interdisciplinary research. With the composer Gaile Griciute she founded Technologies Of Non/Self, an open collective working in the interstices between contemporary art and sonic composition. She has exhibited, performed, screened at District Berlin, Berlin; Kunstverein Nürnberg – Albrecht Dürer Gesellschaft, Nürnberg; Lentvaris Cultural Palace, Vilnius; Malta Contemporary Art, Valletta; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main; Portikus, Frankfurt am Main; Six Space, Hanoi; University of Bonn, Bonn, among others.