‘Pure Land’ examines the aftermath of Agent Orange
By Jaclyn Chong
For ‘Pure Land’, Vietnamese-American artist Dinh Q. Lê and curator Loredana Paracciani have collaborated to examine the long-lasting effects of Agent Orange, a chemical weapon used during the Vietnam War, on Vietnamese society. The exhibition aims to destigmatise physical deformities resulting from Agent Orange.
Working with images from the archives of Tu Du Maternity Hospital in Saigon, Dinh creates visual textures by superimposing the likeness of lotuses on them, evoking the Buddhist allusion to ascending from murky depths. “In ‘Pure Land’, both the photographs and the sculptures emphasize this spiritual dimension,” says Loredana. “The works not only respond visually to the horrors of the war, but also consider their mystical transformation into the realm of the divine.”
This is a continuation of Dinh’s interest on the toxic epidemic, with previous works such as ‘Damaged Gene’ (1998) and ‘Lotus Land’ (1999) stemming from research he has conducted within the Vietnamese community since the 1990s. In this new body of works, he captures the hearts of families impacted by Agent Orange’s devastations, where children who have passed on are elevated to the status of deities.
The works are on sale from USD20,000 to USD40,000, and the show is already garnering interest from institutional and private collectors. “A number of museums have already expressed their interest but of course the works can also be collected individually,” says Loredana. “The foremost intention of the exhibition is to be in touch with as many people as possible so that we can generate greater awareness on this subject.”
‘Pure Land’ is now on view at Tang Contemporary Art Bangkok from 12 January to 1 March 2019.