Fugitive Zone

Fugitive Zone

Opening: 06 pm, Thurs 28 Mar 2024
Exhibition: 11:00 am – 07 pm, Tues – Sat, 28 Mar – 04 May 2024
Galerie BAQ
15 rue Beautreillis, 75004 Paris

From the organizer:

It has been seven years since Hà Ninh Pham began constructing his own world within the My Land project, stemming from his time as a Master of Fine Arts student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. Fugitive Zone at Galerie BAQ marks the artist’s first solo exhibition in the heart of Paris, declaratively claiming space for a burgeoning My Land beyond its former boundaries.

For Hà Ninh – a non-traveler skeptical of extreme politics and weary of supposedly liberatory discourses imposed by Western empires on post-colonial countries – flying to a center of Europe to set up a new territory poses a direct challenge to the artist’s personal convictions. Yet this breach is essential to this phase of his practice.

Hà Ninh Pham, [mothermap] v1, graphite, watercolor and pastel on paper, 122 x 117 cm, 2019 (courtesy of Nguyen Art Foundation Collection)

Hà Ninh Pham, [mothermap] v1, graphite, watercolor and pastel on paper, 122 x 117 cm, 2019 (courtesy of Nguyen Art Foundation Collection)

Adhering to the core principles of [mothermap] , the “maps” exhibited in Fugitive Zone delineate units A2, B2, D4, and F4. These areas all belong to the Northern Hemisphere of the world that Hà Ninh constructs within My Land, originally planned in the early stages of the project to accommodate Western ideologies. As a means of resisting stereotypes imposed on Vietnamese art, the artist only uses “neutral” materials such as paper, charcoal, paint, ink, plastic (for 3D printing), etc., as a way to erase all traces of his identity and background.

Commenting on Hà Ninh Pham’s first solo exhibition, Cheat Codes (2019) at FRONT Art Space, New York, the art critic John Yau wrote:

“Hà Ninh Pham draws maps that lead to more maps… we get the sense that his drawings have to do with feelings of displacement and disruption – and that drawing a map can give him a sense of control.”

Staying true to that spirit, however, Hà Ninh’s control shifts from artworks, gradually extending into space; this progression can be clearly seen in subsequent solo exhibitions such as Recursive, Fables at A+ Works of Arts (2022, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), or Entrusted Conjectures at Manzi Art Space (2023, Hanoi, Vietnam).

With Fugitive Zone, the artist utilizes the existing structure of Galerie BAQ, comprising a ground floor and a basement, transforming the gallery into a place of total freedom inside of a meticulously manipulated zone. Half of the exhibition space is only observable through a screen, broadcasted directly from the security camera installed in the basement. For the artist, the transmitted images represent the boundary between the real and the imagined world. That flat screen is also the only pathway into a space where viewers can gauge actual depth, something that cannot be fathomed when looking at those maps of paradoxical terrains. Accompanying the exhibition, as a key to delve into and decipher this world, the artist has written a set of “guidelines” called Fugitive Zone/substance, published in the form of a notebook/personal diary.

Hà Ninh Pham, B2 [Square Hamlet], graphite, acrylic, ink, and colored pencils on paper, 140x280cm, 2024.

Despite the title, Fugitive Zone is not an area to hide in the literal sense. Ha Ninh invites viewers into a liminal threshold, to fall into a state of skepticism between the surveyor and the surveilled; between hierarchical orders; between freedom and constraints. Conventional dimensions are overturned, and boundaries blurred. Viewers stand right inside the zone but are essentially always outsiders, observing these lands from afar, as through a bird’s-eye view.

*Special thanks to A+ Works of Art, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for their support and collaboration on this project.

About the artist

Portrait of Hà Ninh Pham, 2022.
Photo by Kusuma Pandu Wijaya

Hà Ninh Pham (b. 1991, Hanoi, Vietnam) is a fine artist and arts educator. His work exploits how we construct our understanding of territories from a remote, “bird’s eye” perspective. Working predominantly with drawings on paper and with 3D-printed objects, Hà-Ninh invites viewers to explore the nuanced relationship between manual skill and technological precisions. Driven by a desire to completely suppress his identity from the interpretation of his work, Hà-Ninh is best known for My Land, where the artist imagines terrains that claim no pre-existing ties to Earth and to humanity, and indecipherable maps and unknowable artifacts are the only available clues to understanding this dimension.

He earned his MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, USA in 2018 and his BA from the Vietnam University of Fine Arts, Hanoi, Vietnam in 2014. He received the Silver Medal for Young Talents of Vietnamese Fine Arts Universities in 2015 and the Murray Dessiner Travel Award in 2018.

His notable exhibitions include Recursive Fables, A+ WORKS of ART, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 2022; Institute of Distance, S.E.A Focus 2021 (S.E.A Focus Digital and S.E.A Focus Curated hyper-horizon), Tanjong Pagar Distripark, Singapore, 2021; Necessary Fictions, The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, HCMC, Vietnam, 2019 and Cheat Codes, FRONT Art Space, New York, NY, USA, 2019.

He has participated in a wide range of residencies and projects, namely Programme de Réciprocité, Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, France, 2022; 3rd ASEAN Artists Residency Programme, ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta, Indonesia, 2022; Digital Design & Media Residency, RMIT University Vietnam, HCMC, Vietnam, 2020; Residency, PLOP, London, UK, 2019; Visual Art Residency, The Corporation of Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY, USA, 2019; and Month of Arts Practice, Heritage Space, Hanoi, Vietnam, 2015.

His works are collected by prominent public collections in Southeast Asia, including the Nguyen Art Foundation, The Yeap Lam Yang Collection, and The Outpost.

Hà Ninh Pham is represented by A+ Works of Art in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He currently serves as a lecturer in the Faculty of Creative Industry Design at RMIT University Vietnam.

Hà Ninh Pham in his studio, 2020. Photo by Hoàng Thắng. Courtesy of the artist

About the gallery

Galerie BAQ opened in 2023, under the direction of Lê Thiên-Bảo and Quinnie SG Tan. Situated in the heart of Paris, Galerie BAQ champions and amplifies contemporary art from the world’s emerging centers of creativity, working directly and in collaboration with artists who have ties to Southeast Asia and their diasporic communities everywhere. In addition to artists whose work creates dialogue with Southeast Asia, Galerie BAQ is curious about forms of cultural production and creative expression that engage with complex histories and identities, reimagine traditions, and challenge dominant ideologies.

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