LOCAL TALE © 2013 (documentary photo/video)
On October 24, 2013 Nha Lang Muong ethnic house in Hoa Binh was burned down by accident. Nha Lang, more than 100 years old, was the last surviving house of its kind.
Though my original proposal and strong desire was to work with the site as is, it was “cleansed” due to local authorities’ investigation and an upcoming festival. Discovering this upon my arrival, the challenge was to work with what was left, with available materials and equipment within four days. The installation was also removed shortly after without prior notice so no longer exists. This record was compiled from my initial video walk through.
Combined with the ambient sights and sounds of the site, the piece contained three video monitors with sound and three independent sound sources – traditional North Vietnamese funeral music, sounds from docked boats, and a local Vietnamese radio station broadcasting 24hr national news (cultural, social, political) in real time. Allowed to be shown only during the day, the shattered mirrors were intended to reflect light down from the sky to the darkness of the earth and ashes and manipulate the horizontal and vertical lines of the structure still left standing above. Looking at and through the projected and reflected images from many perspectives in dark and light invites the viewer into a contemplative, emotional space of sight and sound.
The process of working at this site and the loss of cultural heritage it represents is indicative of the current state of Vietnam.