MAM Collection 018: “47 Days, Sound-Less” by Nguyen Trinh Thi

MAM Collection 018: “47 Days, Sound-Less” by Nguyen Trinh Thi

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Opening: 24 Apr – 01 Sep 2024
Artist Talk: 06:30 pm – 08:30 pm, 26 Apr 2024
Mori Art Museum
〒106-6150 Tokyo, Minato City, Roppongi, 6 Chome−10−1, Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, 53階, Japan

From the organizer:

Nguyen Trinh Thi is an internationally active film director and video artist who was born in 1973 in Hanoi, Vietnam and is based there today. Unveiling histories that have sometimes been hidden, stolen, or misinterpreted, her diverse practice explores the role of memory, interrogating the role of artists in Vietnamese society.

In 2021, Nguyen was selected as the first recipient of the Moving Image Commission, an initiative by the Han Nefkens Foundation, M+, Singapore Art Museum, and Mori Art Museum. Her film, 47 Days, Sound-less (2024), borrows passages from several science fiction novels by Ursula K. Le Guin including The Word for World is Forest and City of Illusions to weave a fictional narrative about relationships between humans and non-humans, and between image and sound. In the process of creating this work, Nguyen carefully clipped background elements from American and Vietnamese films – trees, plants, and skies – as well as audio like crickets, birds, and the faint sound of dripping water. At the same time, she extracted sounds like those found in the natural world from the sound of instruments played by local indigenous people. She then brought these fragments into the foreground of the video and soundtrack of this new installation. It also incorporates video footage of inhabitants of a Jarai village in Vietnam’s central highlands talking about a man without human eyes as they gather to pray for the dead.

Nguyen’s video installation synchronizes multiple screens and audio sources, challenging the conventional movie experience of images on a screen, storytelling, and spectators. Following a term coined in the 1960s, she describes this as “expanded cinema.” The natural scenery and the sounds made by living creatures that had served as cinematic backdrop are brought together in this installation without a specific story, enabling viewers to experience a beautiful space that feels as if they are walking through a deep forest. Within that context, there are multiple storylines involving the history of colonization, the climate crisis, an awareness of the lives of animals and plants, animism, and modern religion.

The title, 47 Days, Sound-less, calls to mind French writer and film director Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil, while the 47 Days in the title came from Google Map that gave Nguyen the distance and time to travel on foot (during covid time, without flights) between the river in Central Vietnam and the river in the Philippines where Apocalypse Now the Hollywood movie was shot using the landscape of the Philippines to stand in for Vietnam. It can also be imagined as both unrealistic distance and intimacy when one could not travel beyond the national border.

* 47 Days, Sound-less is commissioned by the Han Nefkens Foundation, Mori Art Museum, M+ Hong Kong and Singapore Art Museum.

Nguyen Trinh Thi

Based in Hanoi, Nguyn Trinh Thi is a filmmaker and artist. Traversing boundaries between film, documentary, video art, installation, and performance, her practice currently explores the potential of sound and listening, and the multiple relations between the image, sound, and space with ongoing interests in history, memory, ecology, representation, and the unknown. Recent exhibitions include installations at Artes Mundi 10 (Wales), Thailand Biennale 2023, documenta 15, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, the 21st Biennale of Sydney, and the 13th Lyon Contemporary Art Biennale and in 2024, she particiates in the 60th Venice Biennnale. In 2009, Nguyen founded Hanoi DOCLAB, an independent center for documentary film and moving image in Hanoi.

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