Opening: Thu 01 Nov 2012,
5 pm 6 pm
HCMC Fine Arts Museum
From the organizer:
‘Voracious Embrace: The human/animal interface’ explores the hidden, perhaps overlooked encounters, between the human and animal world. Over the last nine months, Lena Bui has been working with the scientists of the Centre for Tropical Medicine in Ho Chi Minh City, as an ‘artist-in-residence’, meeting with its scientists to learn more of their research and methods of working, including the dilemmas they face in the world of crisis ‘control and prevention’. Particularly fascinated by zoonosis and the inexplicable distance between the consummation of animal parts and the conditions they are bred, executed and packaged, Bui traveled to rural farming areas in Soc Trang ands Dak O with scientists and returned to the studio compelled by what she witnessed. Drawings of pink flesh – the typical meat morsel found in wet markets across Vietnam – became a recurring motif on the studio wall coupled with the chaotic patterning of the microscopic world where the invisible, yet lethal, universe of bacteria rage their battle for existence. What was particularly intriguing for Bui was the farmer’s intimacy with their animals and the lack of fear towards interacting with blood, raw flesh, feathers, skin and bones, under conditions most urban dwellers would consider unhygienic. Bui was struck by the integral presence of traditional farming practices that continue quiet, yet highly effective ways, giving evidence of a natural relation between the growth of the crop, the herding of animals and their consummation. Documenting her fieldwork through video, photography, sound and sketch, Bui was determined to experiment with differing media, desiring a weight and viscerality that reflected the reality of what she had witnessed. Here was a world seemingly unaffected by the scientific knowledge of the microscopic potential dangers inherent to living with animals in such close proximity – an existence that ironically forms the backbone of a crucial part of the human food chain in Vietnam today.
‘‘Voracious Embrace: The human/animal interface’ is part of an international project titled ‘Art in Global Health’, initiated by Wellcome Collection and curated by Danielle Olsen. Establishing 6 artist residencies – in the UK, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam – ‘Art in Global Health’ seeks to engage artists and scientists, through sharing of research techniques and methods of enquiry, to question or re-frame the relevance of their work, building a comparative impression of global health research, both in terms of the process of research itself and its place in local and global society.
Lena Bui’s ‘artist-in-residence’ is co-organized in Ho Chi Minh City by the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, a Wellcome Trust supported research centre and Sàn Art, Vietnam’s most active independent, non-profit contemporary art space and reading room; with exhibition hosted by the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum showcasing new works realized as a result of this unique collaboration. For further information, please visit wellcomecollection.org/global
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