Saturday, April 30, 2011

Black April

Today marks the 36th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, the recorded end of the American-Vietnam War.

I thought I'd post some photo inspiration for different elements in Project Agent Orange. I've seen most of these pieces either at the Voyeurism show at the SFMOMA or in Berlin--all produced a very visceral reaction in me.

washing sequence.
Gormley, Another Place
Gormley, Another Place

mother and child. mother and soldier. mother and the dead.
Pièta, Michelangelo, 1498-1499
A statue of Bickerdyke, 1860
Mother with her dead son, Käthe Kollwitz, Neue Wache, Berlin

NOTE: I decided when I started this project that I would attempt to create a project about Agent Orange and its effects without exploiting the images of survivors for the purposes of shock and awe, or useless sensationalism. I have included photos below that inform the work I am doing; I believe they are still in line with my initial decision.


VIETNAM. Cam Nghia. Single mother, TRUONG Thi Thuy, 36, with her daughter, TRAN Thi Kieu who was born without eyes. She is also dumb and has some hearing recognition. She is happy most of the time, but when the weather changes she clenches her fists, shout and pokes at her eyesockets. 1998


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Khao Khat: inherited thirst, breath, guilt, desire.

khao khát

Photo by Peter Duong, 2011.
Hi Nat.!
Attached is the picture of a "Girl drinking water". Its title is "Khao khat" means "Thirsty",
but it has another meaning "Nostalgia", a homesick feeling for the old Vietnamese people living outside of Vietnam.
Miss you
I love you.

Ong Noi.

I recently wrote a poem in response to my performance piece on Agent Orange, that started with I wake in the wake of my grandfather's inhale. At the time, I was writing from a fictional standpoint that did not necessarily implicate my own grandfather, though somehow I believed that I inherited the Vietnam War, just as other young Vietnamese Americans have.

Then, in a moment of pure aesthetic serendipity, I found a perfect piece of inspiration while viewing my grandfather's photographs during my recent trip back to California. It was sprawled out there on his carpet, a color image printed on a canvas scroll. The picture above, titled Khao Khat, is my grandfather's depiction of the idiom. Some online dictionary definitions as well as my grandfather's explanation are listed above.

This notion, Khao Khat, represents my connection to the war, to this project, and to my family on many levels. I believe there is a shared continued thirst for closure after 36 years of healing, a shared breath in the wake of a country rebuilding its image, infrastructure, and landscape, a shared guilt felt from an inability to stop previous violence, and a shared desire to move forward in some meaningful way. While my grandfather is nostalgic for a country he used to know, I am nostalgic for a country I never knew. I only imagined it in the empty lots between the tin roof shacks and granite Mercedes dealerships in Ho Chi Minh City, in the empty spaces between the narratives of boat people and the newspaper images of American GIs.

This project was started as a selfish solution to an idea that lived in my body and refused to go away. It has turned into something much greater than myself. I have not inherited dioxin in my blood, but I carry it in my bloodlines.

The piece directly reflects this idea: Khao Khat: To be gasping for...

Monday, April 25, 2011

inherited inspirations

In response to the question: "Why are your women performers wearing all black?"
Choreographer, Ea Sola, responds: "Why do fathers keep sending their sons to war to fight other sons whose fathers haven sent them to fight the war?" (*quoted from memory)

I first became interested in the ways that people inherit war after watching a performance of Ea Sola's Drought and Rain vol. 2 in February of 2008 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the summer before I interned there.

Three years later, I have gratefully begun to explore that inheritance through the moving body.

exercise in repetition

Took a workshop with Ben Rasmussen as part of ClassClassClass.
Investigated Repetition as a choreographic structure.

Some choreographers use repetition to develop a motif or a phrase structure (A, A', etc.) within a work. This requires that a particular movement or gesture is repeated and then built upon. There is a sense of completeness garnered from the recognition of a movement that has been performed before. A sense of catharsis in the progression of that movement.

Other choreographers choose to repeat a certain gesture without a choreographed sense of development; however, despite the prescribed reluctance towards change, there is inevitably an evolution of repeated movement when performed by a human being. We are not machines. In the same vain as why Rauschenberg's Factum 1 and Factum 2 differ, repetition in performance is inherently not exactly the same. The body inserts itself.

This fact produces two results:

1. the eye habituates to the repeated movement, a sense of security is developed
2. differences and development are made more apparent in contrast to the sameness; interest is renewed

I aim to find the place where the body must insert itself.
Pain, fatigue, and stamina all play a role.
I want to explore the inanity that results from an action that is repeated incessantly.

What happens when a movement, that we know serves no purpose other than destruction, continues to repeat itself?

When must we stop?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rothko: No. 14, 1960

Tracing bloodlines
begins with an exhale
the bleeding of toxic on calm
the calming of orange on sea
the seeping of water
through me.

what is clear in memory
blurs at the edges
what is silent in thought
echoes dissonant in action

every exhale in life is followed
by an inhale
every exhale in death is
followed by silence.