A solo exhibition by artist Vo An Khanh
Duration: 02.06.2020 — 08.08.2020
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)
Võ An Khánh is remembered for his uncanny, ethereal, even phantasmal photographs of the Vietnam War. In his pictures, we see the urgent and quotidian lives of the Southern Vietnamese resistance in the Mekong Delta—covert scouts, medics, musical ensembles and printing department workers who operate and survive in harmony with the sheltering mangrove forests. Across hamlets and villages, the revolutionists continue their didactic mission as they teach the national script to local schoolchildren. Fugitive classrooms are set up in corners of earth where the children’s tottering chalk marks, their inchoate Romanized letters, coalesce into the light of sun.
Whereas abundant journalistic snapshots tend to collect spectacles of ghastly pain and fortify demarcations between utterly simplified factions, Võ’s most haunting pictures unveil encounters, precarious and transient. These fleeting situations, reincarnated as calm flat photographic surfaces, live on not as hollow representation, but as animate presence, where the struggle, seen anew, becomes distinctly other. The imaged wartime of Võ An Khánh carries a self-replenishing, near-mythological energy that deforms or transforms the prefixed meanings of ideology, outlives the noise of dogma, outlasts the propaganda of discourse.
The photographs refuse to ossify into mere datasets of information: they breathe. They echo the odd, separate rhythm of a past that flies over the hic et nunc. They gather, condense, ex-press, ex-pose the elusive site where an event and an eternity concur. They throw their stigma into our sight. They withdraw themselves, and draw us, into a gravitational field of their own, teeming with what the philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy describes as the vital force that is veiled, reserved and boundless, the dense intensity that quietly keeps pictures sacred.
—Nguyễn Hoàng Quyên, co-curator, Sàn Art