Into The Violet Belly

Thuy Han Nguyen Chi / , , , & / 2022

The artist's mother tells of facing death while fleeing Vietnam as a young woman in a rich and enigmatic video work in which a glowing piece of coal on a mirror shatters any expectation of an unambiguous reality.

Family stories, myths and science fiction run like three parallel tracks through Thuy-Han Nguyen-Chi’s video work ‘Into The Violet Belly’, created in collaboration with the artist’s mother, Thuyền Hoa, whose dramatic escape from her homeland Vietnam as a young woman constitutes the work’s own origin story. Her stories of smuggling secret messages past Americans and facing death at sea during her post-war escape are told in a film studio in front of a modern bluescreen – a neutral backdrop capable of transforming into anything. The same goes for the narrative itself. A folkloric tale of a dragon prince is tightly woven with the mother’s story into an enigmatic but meaningful sequence of reoccuring images. Some eggs buried in the black sand in front of an endless sea. A piece of glowing coal on a mirror. Symbols of past and future, tightly bound together in a compact, layered narrative.