Diane Severin Nguyen Exhibition


poster for Diane Severin Nguyen Exhibition
[Photo: Dawid Misiorny]

This event has ended.

SculptureCenter presents the first solo institutional exhibition of Diane Severin Nguyen. Curated by Sohrab Mohebbi, Curator-at-Large, the show will present a newly commissioned video and installation in the ground floor galleries. The exhibition is co-organized with the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, where it will be on view in spring 2022. The Chicago presentation is curated by Myriam Ben Salah, Director and Chief Curator. A publication – the artist’s first – will accompany the exhibition.

Diane Severin Nguyen’s exhibition is built around a new moving image work co-commissioned by both institutions and filmed in 2021. Set in Warsaw, Poland, the film loosely follows the character of an orphaned Vietnamese child who grows up to be absorbed into a South Korean pop-inspired dance group. Widely popular within a Polish youth subculture, K-pop is used by the artist as a vernacular material to trace a relationship between Eastern Europe and Asia with roots in Cold War allegiances.

This dichotomy of the East and the West is further complicated by the significant Vietnamese diaspora currently living in Poland, composed of Northerners who migrated before the fall of the Iron Curtain, and Southerners who came in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. While such inherited divisions may be invisible to the majority culture in which they are situated, Nguyen traces how these layered inner conflicts are reckoned within the process of finding shared symbols and naming oneself from within another’s regime. Consistent with Nguyen’s long term artistic concerns, this inquiry probes the paradoxes inherent to photography: how can self-actualization happen within the unifying realm of representation? How can a medium that excludes or suppresses parts of reality exceed the failures and omissions of language?

For the project, Nguyen assembled a crew of teenaged Polish dancers who perform original choreography set to music and lyrics co-written by the artist. By arranging these trained bodies, who are invited to “lose themselves to the new image,” as Nguyen’s lyrics suggest, the artist looks at both the exaltation and erasure of personal traumas at play in the process of representation, identity building, and the formation of a shared nation space.



from September 16, 2021 to December 13, 2021

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