“We make use of the tree in all kinds of forms, physically and spiritually…We worship gods and ghosts that reside in and on the trees, but no one actually pays respect to the tree itself.” – Trần Thảo Miên
Our second artist-in-residence is Trần Thảo Miên, a Hanoi-based artist whose work approaches trees and other nonhuman beings through the Vietnamese belief “Van vat huu linh” (all beings are with souls).
In the process of material-based practices and experiments, Miên approaches arboreal and living creatures according to animism from an anthropological perspective. From “The Golden Bough” in Roman mythology to the latest scientific report of Tel Aviv University on detecting trees that emit sounds when in danger, Miên’s investment in the medium of textile and its capacity for storytelling and mythmaking informs all her work, including her sculptural installations, which brings this belief into three dimensions.
Graduating from the University of the Art London, majoring in “Fashion technology: Surface Textiles,” Miên has developed her own embroidery techniques using monofilament yarn on various types of fashion waste, while moving toward collaboration with nature beings. “I try to approach nature with sincerity and respect as tenderly as I can. I let them lead the path and flow like water, slowly and gently learning from them.”
During her residency at Sàn Art, Miên expands upon the themes of her (tree) Altar series, and the intricate, finely wrought sculptural forms that characterize her work, to create a new shrine inspired by Sàn Art space and nature in the city. Miên sets out to reclaim trees as spiritually embodied beings and materialize the invisible roots of faith for imagination, contemplation, and provocation. This bridging of faith, form, and material creates space for viewers to probe the ever-present connections between real and artificial, ancient and contemporary, nature and spirituality, and largely, the various forms of belief that are scripting the relationship between human and other-than-human worlds.
About Sàn Art Studio
Started in 2021, Sàn Art Studio is a six-week residency and mentorship initiative hoping to develop one proposed creative project while nurturing the cultural agenda of the city. Artists are able to utilise the gallery’s platform and resources as an incubator for Ho Chi Minh City’s arts scene and community exchange.