Visual Empire - Translations and Reproductions: A talk by visual artist Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn
Once called 'La perle de l’empire', Indochina was understood as one of France’s benevolent and civilizing enterprises. As part of its colonial expansion, photography played a determining role in re-defining the modernizing project alongside with developing new forms of visuality.
In her PhD research Visual Empire: Translations and Reproductions (work title), Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn takes an inherited family photo album as her foundational research material. It contains approximately five hundred photographs taken in Vietnam and dated between the mid-1910s to 1974. Departing from these biographical objects, she proposes a critical reflection on the friction between Vietnamese photographic practices at the margin and at the center of French colonial empire. From a transnational approach, she anchors the research since the introduction of the technological apparatus in Indochina with the founding of the first photo studio by Annamese Đặng Huy Trứ in 1869 and the subsequent expansion of commercial photographic activities by Indochinese, nationally and internationally, into the twentieth century. By tracing a history of Vietnamese photo studios and photographers, rather than solely relying on the legacy by foreign born photographers, Visual Empire is an investigation in the translation of the photographic technology to the Far East, the dissemination of photographic equipment, and through the technological lens the making of a modern and decolonized subject in Vietnam. The outcome of the research will be twofold; a written thesis and an artistic outcome.
Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn is a visual artist using archives and a broad range of media to investigate issues of historicity, collectivity, utopian politics and multiculturalism via feminist theories. Currently based in Stockholm, she is a PhD candidate in the ‘Art, Technology and Design’ program at Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design and KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Nguyễn previously completed the Whitney Independent Study Program, New York, in 2011, having obtained her MFA and a post-graduate diploma in Critical Studies from the Malmö Art Academy in 2005, and a BFA from Concordia University, Montreal, in 2003. Her work has been shown internationally, such as at the Borås Art Biennial, Borås (forthcoming 2021); Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm (2021); Trinity Square Video, Toronto (2019); The Július Koller Society, Bratislava (2019); CAMPLE LINE, Thornhill (2019); Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah (2018); Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Philadelphia (2018).
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