Artist Talk by Bui Cong Khanh

Please join the artist for the last day of his solo exhibition ‘Dislocate’. Bui Cong Khanh shall share his two-year journey in realizing what is his most significant installation to date, showcasing the brilliance of Vietnamese culture in history and technique.

‘‘Dislocate’ is a kind of fortress. The central structure, likened to a bunker, is deliberately left incomplete; its roof and walls are not solid, possessing space between beams where wall panels are spread randomly throughout. Taking traditional imperial architectural techniques of Hue¹ as its style, Bui chose the design of defense (the bunker) as its structure – it has only one entrance, its roof angled to hit the ground at the opposite end. The wood is a mixture of tones in yellow: the brighter color indicative of the youth of the jackfruit tree, in comparison to a darkened complexion illustrative of age. In ‘Dislocate’, Bui combines the antique with the newly carved. He has literally taken apart the bones of a traditional home and re-purposed particular structural and decorative elements within his own design. The compass of this fortress is guarded outside by what could be likened as sentinels: four-miniature Buddhist pagoda sitting atop their own tall square plinth, each dramatically near-suffocated by penjing² in representation of the seasons that govern the cycle of time – Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. This is a quietly theatrical installation.


¹the ancient capital of Vietnam on its central coast.

² ‘Penjing’ is an ancient Chinese Daoist art of potted plants in a miniature landscape setting. Often incorporating rocks, these small landscapes of carefully pruned trees are often replete with small ceramic figurines, these prized settings originally claimed to possess sacred value. Such a setting can be found at the entrance to the central shrine of the Fujian Chinese Congregation Assembly Hall in Hoi An, a place Bui frequented often as a child with his father.