On Oct. 25th, 2016, I went to an art discussion at the Museum of Contemporary Art on the topic of New Mythologies for the Future. Nora Taylor, Alsdorf Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art History at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Ivy Wilson, associate professor of English and faculty affiliate in Asian American Studies at Northwestern University participated in the discussion with Naomi Beckwith, curator for the exhibition The Propeller Group.
The Propeller Group is an artist group based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Two of the group members, Matt Lucero and Tuan Andrew Nguyen, have studied and lived in the United States of America. Including the third member, Phunam, the Propeller Group produces artworks in multiple art mediums including paintings, fabrics, sculptures, media productions. Since the establishment in 2006, The Propeller Group has attracted attentions from the public from both commercial video works and fine arts. The exhibition The Propeller Group at the MCA collects a wide range of types of works by the artists from the past five years and the videos are the highlights of the entire exhibition.
The discussion of the New Mythologies for the Future featured some interesting questions that are related to the exhibition and the artists. The discussion started with an explanation of the works and the intention of the exhibition which is to show viewers in the US the perspectives of Vietnamese artists. Because of the Vietnamese War, two countries, especially Vietnam have gone through traumatic experiences and gradually move towards the start of a post-war situation. Artists from Vietnam frequently face the problem of unable to make art freely due to the government control. The Propeller Group, artists who have a greater degree of freedom in art making in the US, touches on some sentimental and taboo topics in their commercial works and tries to inject a new possibility in Vietnamese art circles.
The Propeller Group, still from The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music, 2014. © The Propeller Group Courtesy of James Cohan, New York