‘Session Three’ has been a dynamic experimentation space for Ngoc Nau and Thao Nguyen since June 2013, where the artists conducted scientific and cultural research that informed their individual artistic process in intriguing and profound ways.
A fresh Art Critique graduate from Hanoi Fine Arts University, Ngoc Nau (b. 1989) has always been passionate and intuitive about art. Coming to the Laboratory with a broad interest in concepts of light, she embarked on finding a more methodic approach to working with her creativity. More importantly, it was a journey in seeking and affirming her place within the realm of the international art world. Structured research was an unfamiliar methodology for her, as she embarked to better understand atom theory in the field of physics, which drew Ngoc Nau’s attention to the tiniest particles that make up the physical foundation of light. At the same time, the symbol of light reminded her that it is the innermost experiences that define how one sees the world, which in the end is a kind of truth. Ngoc Nau’s resulting artworks are full of intricate detail with the use of surprising materials. Immersing the audience in mental and bodily experiences that are both captivating and provoking, Ngoc Nau’s works revive basic questions about human’s visibility and vision, knowledge and faith, known and unknown.
Returning to Vietnam this year after finishing an MFA in Painting and Drawing at School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Thao Nguyen (b. 1987) has a long-standing fascination with how objects and materials are related and tell stories. During her time at the Lab, she further explored the idea that all personal perceptions are fictional, a perspective crystallized from her earlier inability to create works that could adequately recount someone else’s story. Being an outsider (ie. Not the person involved in the event) is after all tantamount to only holding on to fragments of concepts and sentiments. Once such realization became an articulated and pronounced awareness in her, Thao Nguyen shifted her focus to the larger relations that objects, events and even social behaviours hold with their contexts. Whether it is looking at the history of a material such as jute, the repetition of a habit such as showing respect through bowing, or the displacement of a plant’s typical environment where jute is grown in an exhibition hall instead of on a field she constructs new realities and experimentations of culture; thereby forcing the audience to re-examine the meaning and nature of the social and psychological phenomena that are often taken for granted.