KVT – The First Autopsy – Autopsies Open to the Public

KVT – The First Autopsy – Autopsies Open to the Public

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KVT 2013Autopsy of Days 1

KVT into autopsies at Goethe

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(Vietnamese version available)

There’s a marvelous photographic exhibition at Goethe until the latter days of July.

Its called ‘Autopsy of Days’, is a Doclab initiative, and has been excellently curated by photographer Jamie Maxtone-Graham whose website is worth investigating and who currently has ten photographs from his recent Manzi exhibition ‘The Desiring Garden’ in a show in Arles, France.

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Rather than re-invent the wheel I’ll use Jamie’s curator’s statement to elaborate on the very impressive Autopsy exhibition

………The word ‘autopsy’ derives from the Greek word autopsia meaning ‘to see for oneself’.
The fifteen Vietnamese photographers whose recent work is exhibited here are showing us intimately and through small, personal dissections of their own lives and interests what they have seen for themselves. These are forensic self-investigations, observing from the inside the state the individual. This is an inexact science but in it much is to be seen and more to be learned through careful examination.

In March 2013, Hanoi DocLab began an intensive, nearly 3-month long photography workshop focusing on a personal approach both to making photographs and the individual act of looking, of ‘seeing for oneself’. These photographers met twice weekly for more than two months, engaged in research, visual exercises and presentation of both personal work and research – all designed to encourage a re-evaluation of their individual relationship to photography and the act of seeing in all its simplicity and complexity.

It would be wrong to think of this photography as the work of students. Most are in fact amateurs – making photographs for the love that the word implies – with professions in other areas. But the images presented here are actually the photographic work of early-career artists. It is work produced with commitment and care, with intelligence and imagination, with an understanding of ones place in both social and artistic history.

It is one job of the artist to show society things it may not always be comfortable to observe about itself. But society must follow and, as the artist has, must see for itself. In that simple act of looking at what has been seen, we come to determine our own pathology, our own experience.”

I’m impressed with the show and over the next month I’ll highlight a selection of the artists’ work rather than lump it all into one opinion piece.

My second visit to the exhibition made me fall for the black and white series shot by Nguyen Thuy Tien… seven separate series which definitely fulfill the tenet of the last curatorial paragraph.

Tien has added text hand written captions directly onto her photographs…a reference to Sophie Calle? Sometimes they add pathos or empathy and occasionally they are a hindrance.

Images from two series I’ve included here are about females aging in Vietnamese society and both are poignant and somewhat confronting…

Although I won’t include them, the brief texts that elaborate the following images …. about a poet once known and still remembered… is really touching.

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The next series pulls no punches about the personal indignities of being elderly and physically and/or mentally incapacitated

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A very compelling set is Truong Que Chi’s ‘Rehearsal’ at the Youth Theater as it follows the visual drama of a troupe getting ready to stage a performance. A selection from Chi’s 24 very arresting images belowAutopsy of Days 15

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The work that caught my immediate attention on both visits is the only one not on the wall. It’s an installation by Anonymous who invites us to sit down at her messy, graffitied desk littered with note books and personal paraphernalia, and peruse her stack of images. You can re-arrange things, comment, add to the decorations or just enjoy.

I hope she keeps focused on producing art of this caliber. There’s a bit of a tentative Tracey Emin touch to her work.

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Kiem Van Tim is a keen observer of life in general and the Hanoi cultural scene in particular and offers some of these observations to the Grapevine. KVT insists that these observations and opinion pieces are not critical reviews. Please see our Comment Guidelines / Moderation Policy and add your thoughts in the comment field below.