Fractured Lens: Memory, Archive, and Photography at an Intersection

Fractured Lens: Memory, Archive, and Photography at an Intersection

Date & Time: Sat-Sun, 27 & 28th May @2:30PM-5PM
Location: Sàn Art
Millenium Masteri,
Units B.16 & B.17
132 Ben Van Don, Ward 6, District 4,
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Language: English (tiếng Anh)

As we enter a hyper-digitalized era, with the advancement of technologies in capturing, representing, and archiving memories and histories, one cannot help but feel overwhelmed at the retrospective prospects that this digital tsunami has to offer. Among human’s time-capsule devices, photography has long been hailed for its presumed objectivity in preserving moments of spatio-temporal specificities. Nonetheless, its controversial link to memory and reality is now being reassessed. For visual contemporary artists, particularly those who employ photographic materials or media, this tension is spotlighted and explored as artists wade across treacherous water to uncover, engage with, and ‘translate’ a diverse array of photographic mementos into subtly provoking artworks. “Fractured Lens: Memory, Archive, and Photography at an Intersection” attempted to shed light, unpack, and add nuances to this intricate nexus.

The two-day programme was composed of a discussion with invited guest speakers and a film screening, organised by Hung Duong, Eleonore Tran and Jacqueline Hoang Nguyen.

*Cover image: Nhu Xuan Hua, Archive from year 70′. Series: Tropism, Consequences of a Displaced Memory, 2016 – 2021

Day 1/2 – Discussion: Mnimosina obscura: Photography as Medium of Memory Translation

How does one approach the historical/archival authenticity that photography seems to offer? How can moments of personal familial happenings, captured in snapshot photography, interrupt ‘officialized’ macro-narratives by introducing alternative flows of microhistory? Can we look at photography as a translational medium from reality to memory? Three speakers of different backgrounds but with a shared interest in the intricate visual-mnemonic paradigm of photography came together to discuss these questions at length. The talk was followed by a Q&A with the three speakers: Hung Duong, Eleonore Tran and Jacqueline Hoang Nguyen.

Day 2/2 – Screening: Pixelating families: Photography as Material for Filmic (Re)Inquiries

How much of our personal life is contained and transmitted through photographs? What happens when artists and filmmakers begin utilising photography not only as an inspirational force but a form of visual materials to be embedded into their works? What potential forms can photography transfigure into, and what micro-histories might it invoke and inject into more ‘official’ historical paradigms, as visual makers weave it into a filmic medium? The artists’ moving-image works in this screening programme invited the audience into screen-based private moments to contemplate the above questions.

Screening list:

  1. Family Practice – Sarah Wong (2021) – 12:19
  2. August Letters – Mai Huyen Chi & Xuan Ha (2021) – 26:59
  3. The most romantic walk, Phan Anh (2018) – 30:39
  4. Love, Dad – Diana Cam Van Nguyen (2021) – 12:29
  5. Coco means ghost – Gabi Dao (2019) – 25:24

The screening followed with an audience Q&A with artists Gabi Dao, Xuan Ha, and Mai Huyen Chi.