Tra My Nguyen

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I’d Blush if I Could


2020
mixed media installation, metall, acrylic nails, digital print

My sculptural video installation explores the tensions involved in the post-human feminised 'cyborg': what ‘labour’ produces post-human technologies, and what discrepancies arise from cyborgian future speculation.

In Donna Haraway’s 1985 'A Cyborg Manifesto' she states ‘The cyborg is a condensed image of both imagination and material reality, the two joined centers structuring any possibility of historical transformation’. Nearly 30 years after her publication, this assemblage of the post-human subject is still intertwined in today’s power disparity. Moreover, its ‘multi-global, inter-subjective, institutional components’ are intentionally hidden (Hilary Bergen, 2016). For example following the discovery of silicon semiconductors in the 1970s, the modern computer industry which carried cybernetics into homes around the world was founded. This field of production proliferated in the 1980s Silicon Valley, with migrant women being the predominant workers within this extremely toxic field.
The production of technology bears histories of women and migrant labour. This system of labour exploitation signifies the irony of today’s society: the exploited bodies producing the new 'cyborg' assemblage are the ones being rendered invisible in the final product, and ultimately these bodies are being automated away by machines.

 

using one’s feet has become an option of last resort


2020
mixed media installation, 3 channel video, textile, metal, silicone


The motorbike culture has become the symbol of contemporary Vietnam, marking the core of Vietnam’s capitalist transition since the mid-1980s. Focusing on discourses of consumerism, mobility, gender and class identity, this project explores the emerging female motorist street style in Vietnam, dubbed as ‘Street Ninja’. By deconstructing and reassembling the ‘Street Ninjas’ UV protection clothes to ‘wearable sculptures’, the project suggests a strategy for reimagining the ‘Street Ninjas’ as protagonists countering their discriminatory experiences. Furthermore the protagonists have an emancipatory potential, as they reconfigure signifying meanings of mobility and women’s experience by blending boundaries of the female body with commodities (i.e. motorbike, fashion). By doing so, their goal is to appropriate (public) spaces while applying ‘feminist collective affinity’.

The installation consists of a sculpture, made up of an assemblage of ‘wearbales’, plus a video installation showcasing two projections of the feminist protagonist and a video narrating the ‘utopian’ Vietnam.




Wheeling City, Land, and River


2018 
mixed media installation, video, motorbike, textile, digital print

Drawing upon my Vietnamese background, the work focus upon identifying connections, disconnections and nostalgia surrounding commodities within the tangling nexus of hyper-consumption.

The mixed media installation examines motorbike culture in Vietnam, examining it from both a Western and local standpoint. Stemming from childhood memories riding in Vietnam, to my mother selling her motorbike to move to Germany, the motorbike becomes symbolic of freedom to many locals. This is in contrast to Western tourist’s fascination and fetishisation, where the image of an overstocked Vietnamese motorbike is perceived almost as novelty.