Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba


Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba is a Vietnam-based artist who works with film, photography, conceptual objects and installations. In a long series of works he has used Vietnam’s complex history as a starting point and created “alternative histories” and “memorial projects”. Since 2001 he has produced a series of four films recorded in water.

In Memorial Project Nha Trang, Vietnam: Towards the Complex – For the Courageous, the Curious and the Cowards, his first film and one of two being shown at Malmö Konsthall, cyclo (bicycle taxi) drivers resolutely pedal across the Vietnamese seabed. The title of the film is a tribute to the millions of boat people who entrusted their fate to the waves – a venture which cost many of them their life. Through the effort and willpower invested by these young men in moving their vehicles along underwater the artist mirrors the suffering and struggle for survival which has plagued the Vietnamese people both during and after the war with the United States.

The use of metaphor is typical of Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba, and the water in his films acts as a filter between us – the viewers – and the events captured by the camera. This allows him to experiment with levels of reality. The cyclo is just one of a number of recurring metaphors in his art and has been used in several works even before Memorial Project Nha Trang. One example is Seats for Sale (1998), a collection of colourful and attractive seats designed for one of Vietnam’s poorest job categories in the new market economy.

Historical events are often the subject of Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba’s art. He refers to the past and fills a gap where our official histories are distorted or erased. But just as history leads to the present, his work also leads us to consider the issues and problems which characterise our lives. Through metaphors and symbols we as visitors to the exhibition are exhorted to consider issues of globalisation, relations between nations and individuals, and the social implications of economic development. These issues not only constitute Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba’s art but also much of his life. He was born in Tokyo in 1968, the son of a Vietnamese father and Japanese mother. He spent the first ten years of his life in Vietnam and Japan before his father and he, like many others, moved to the United States. He stayed there until 1994, when he graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Today he is once again based in Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City.

In addition to the two video works, he will also produce a new installation on site at Malmö Konsthall. In recent years, Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba has had solo exhibitions at venues including: the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo (2004), the MACRO Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Roma (2003), the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York (2003), and has participated in the 1 Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2005), the 2004 Shanghai Biennale, the 8th Istanbul Biennial (2003), the 50th Venice Biennale (2003), the 13th Biennale of Sydney (2002), the 25th São Paulo Biennial (2002), and the Yokohama Triennial 2001 in Japan.

For the exhibition at Malmö Konsthall a richly illustrated catalogue will be produced featuring texts by Dan Cameron, Lars Grambye and Fredrik Liew.