Palimpsest is a sculptural light installation consisting of miniature lacquer “skins” painted directly onto glass slides and projected onto the wall or translucent silk screens to create an atmospheric phantasmagorical space. These projected “skins” are reminiscent of images seen through a telescope or microscope. The images present both a macro and micro view of the universe invisible to the naked eye if not for the aid of a lens.
With Palimpsest, Oanh Phi Phi continues to push the boundaries of Vietnamese lacquer painting, a medium central to her practice. She employs these experimentations with lacquer painting as a field of artistic research through which to explore new relations between art history, sociopolitical context, memory, contemporary critical theory as a means towards new methodologies of interpretation and production of meaning.
This installation plays with the potential of lacquer painting by presenting the medium in its dematerialized form to reflect the way we perceive the world around us. Oanh Phi Phi developed the concept and technique of producing lacquer “skins”, which allows her to engage the medium of lacquer without its traditional surface. In this installation, these skins are to be projected through “lacquerscopes” which she retrofitted, designed and lacquered using lenses from old slide film projectors to create a striking and innovative visual encounter with the medium of lacquer. This constant shifting of perspectives and preference for seeing through an apparatus or a machine reflects the condition of our understanding of reality in this age of digital reproduction.
(Edited from excerpts provided by Fost Gallery)