Memorial Project Nha Trang, Vitenam: Towards the Complex – For the Courageous, the Curious, and the Cowards, 2001 (video still), single screen projection, 13:00 minutes, sound, color
Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba's works explore issues of Vietnamese identity, and are characterized by a stunning aesthetic and by a deeply moving poetic sensibility. Despite their seductive beauty, they include manifestations of violence that echo the war and the social and political destruction that followed in its wake.
In Memorial Project Nha Trang, Vietnam: Towards the Complex - For the Courageous, the Curious, and the Cowards, a group of young men is seen pedaling and pulling bicycle taxis across underwater coral reefs. As they labor to advance, they must repeatedly stop and emerge for air. The only way to survive is to lunge for the surface and return to the same futile and Sisyphean struggle. This underwater race concludes with a stunning scene in which the young men swim towards an area of white mosquito nets planted in the depths of the ocean; these nets functions as a memorial for all those who died attempting to leave Vietnam. The artist uses the cyclos' slow and futile motion to examine the existential drama of impoverished workers and fishermen - and of a nation that is still emerging from war and hoping for change. The cyclo symbolizes an obsolete tradition that has become a tourist attraction; its evocation serves to protests against legislation that currently prohibits its production, and against related social and economic problems.
Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba was born in Tokyo, Japan (1968). He studied at Brookhaven College in Dallas, Texas (1990-1998); he holds a B.F.A. from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1990-1992), and an M.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Mount Royal School of Art, Baltimore, MD (1992-1994); He has had numerous solo exhibitions, including at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum; at the Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rome; and at The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2003); and at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2004). He has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including the Sâo Paulo Biennial (2002); the Istanbul Biennial (2003); the Shanghai Biennale (2004); the Biennale d'Art Contemporain de Lyon and the Venice Biennale (2005); and the Biennale of Sydney (2006). He lives and works in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.