A duo exhibition featuring Freddy Nadolny Poustochkine and Trương Công Tùng
Opening: 24.04.2019 @7:00pm
Exhibition on view until 21.05.2019
Location: Sàn Art
Unit B6.17 & B6.16
132 Bến Vân Đồn, Ward 6, District 4,
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
(enter from Nguyen Huu Hao side)
The duo exhibition The Sap Still Runs, organized by Sàn Art and the Institut Français in Vietnam, is a gathering of personal poetics by Freddy Nadolny Poustochkine and Trương Công Tùng.
Comic-book artist and Art Labor Collective collaborator Freddy Nadolny Poustochkine presents a collection of gouache sketchbook and video diaries that document memories of, and intimacies with, the sprawling conurbations, sensuous landscapes and nameless faces that the artist has passed in Sài Gòn and Buôn Ma Thuột over the years. Poustochkine has been incubating this diaristic travelogue during his previous stays in Vietnam and most recently, a residency at Villa Saigon.
Trương Công Tùng, in a metaphysical dream-dialogue with Freddy Nadlny Poustochkine, transmits into the space an uncanny body of installation works, utilizing media ranging from gently appropriated or archived organisms—a seared tree root, a string of wooden praying beads, a filmic segment of ghostly insects on the wing—to an ethnographic text on indigenous beliefs from the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Patiently collecting and tinkering with found materials, the artist works through realities of extractivism and ephemerality across the now fragile highland forests and from a more expansive spatio-temporal dimension, across the historical strata of (neo)coloniality in the context of Vietnam.
The Sap Still Runs takes its conceptual inspiration from a picture of a felled pine tree in the Cévennes of France, an incident Freddy Nadolny Poustochkine encountered by chance and believed to be a vital resonance with the sight of devalued rubber trees being truncated en masse in the Central Highlands, a cyclical phenomenon he’d learned through Trương Công Tùng’s practice of salvaging and metamorphosing tree corpses into works of art in Jarai Province, Vietnam. As vertical forests transform into severed bodies on the ground, their sap, bearing the spirit, or the soan, of the trees, continue to spill and permeate the environment, this time, in the guise of creations and gestures embedded in the exhibition space, a mediating apparatus separate from the remote terrains where the artists first witnessed their own scenes of deracination.
 The cosmology around the spirit or “soan” is learned from Les populations montagnardes du Sud-Indochinois, a book authored by Jacques Dournes, a Christian-missionary-cum-ethnographer widely translated in Vietnam. Dournes devoted the book’s final chapter, “L’âme et les songes,” to legends, tales and discussions on the Central Highlanders’ worldview that all visible forms are pictures (rup) of invisible spirits (soan). The book is translated by Nguyên Ngọc into Vietnamese under the title Miền Đất Huyền Ảo, meaning Magical Land.
Freddy Nadolny Poustochkine
Comic-book author Freddy Nadolny Poustochkine has been fascinated by Vietnam since 2002. After graduating from the École Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs of Strasbourg (France), he produced a series of comics through the publishing houses Ego comme x and Futuropolis. In 2011, he was awarded a writing grant from the Centre National du Livre and spends a year in Vietnam, a profound and immersive experience that he transcribes through a Notebook/Journal, a narrative pillar to various projects going from comic books to graphic and video installations.
Freddy is one of the laureates of the residency programme Villa Saigon 2019. His graphic novels include Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress (2017), The poisoned hill (2010), and The flesh of apples (2006). He has also collaborated with Vietnamese filmmaker Trương Minh Quý on films such as Someone in the forest (2013), Mars in the well (2014) and City of Mirrors (2016), and filmmaker Christelle Lheureux on Water Buffalo (2007) and The earth leans (2015). Past exhibitions include participation to Photophobia, a retrospective of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s cinematographic work, at the Stenersen museum in Oslo and Gallery KCUA in Kyoto (2013), The Yellow Room during Esperantopolis festival in Ho Chi Minh City (2011), and Spontaneous Generation, a group show presented at the Angoulême International Comics Festival (2010).
Trương Công Tùng
Born in 1986, Trương Công Tùng grew up in Dak Lak among various ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands, Vietnam. He graduated from the Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts University in 2010, majoring in lacquer painting. With research interests in science, cosmology and philosophy, Trương Công Tùng works with a range of media, including video, installation, painting and found objects, which reflect personal contemplations on the cultural and geopolitical shifts of modernization, as embodied in the morphing ecology, belief or mythology of a land. He is also a member of Art Labor (founded in 2012), a collective working between visual art and social/life sciences to produce alternative non-formal knowledge via artistic and cultural activities in various public contexts and locales.
Trương Công Tùng has exhibited extensively in Vietnam and abroad as a solo artist and as part of Art Labor Collective. Select recent exhibitions include Bangkok Biennale (2018), “Between Fragmentation and Wholeness” at Galerie Quynh in Ho Chi Minh City (2018), “A Beast, a God, and a Line” at Para Site, Hong Kong (2018) and Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (2018), Dhaka Art Summit, Dhaka (2018), Carnegie International 57th edition at Carnegie Museum of Art (2018), Cosmopolis art fair at the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2017), “Soil and Stones, Souls and Songs” at Para Site, Hong Kong (2017) and Kadist, San Francisco (2016), “Across the Forest,” an installation for Project Skylines with Flying People 3 at Nhà Sàn Collective, Hanoi (2016), and “Gestures and Archives of the Present, Genealogies of the Future” at Taipei Biennial, Taiwan (2016).
Exhibition Text: Nguyễn Hoàng Quyên
Video footage: Trương Minh Quý and Hoàng Lê
(The footage was used in a video installation by Freddy Nadolny Poustochkine, with permission from the filmmaker and his cameraman.)
The work presented by Freddy Nadolny Poustochkine has been developed during his 2-month residency in Ho Chi Minh City and as part of the Villa Saigon program of the Institut Français in Vietnam.