Cam Xanh


Socrates’ Apology


Marker on silk cocoon, wood and plexiglass box, vintage school desk, copy of Socrates’s Apology, notebook, pen

Dimensions variable

Socrates’s Apology uses as a main component to the work the well-known philosophical document Platonis Apologia Socratis, written by Socrates’s dedicated disciple, Plato. Platonis Apologia Socratis is a court account made by the Greek philosopher Socrates, who was put on trial in 399 BC for dismantling the belief that Greek gods are the ultimate body of governance in Athens’s political and societal system, and was thus considered a traitor who was “corrupting the youth” with secularist thinking. Together with performative instructions provided by the artist, this work invites viewers to participate in a process of collective reflection and critique that traverses time and space, using one of our most fundamental tools: language. Socrates’s Apology conveys thus a desire to seek the truth through the language of philosophy, and continues the conversation initiated by Socrates about the relationship between beliefs, systems of governance, and power. 

Instructions (provided by the artist):  

“Participants are to enter the room one at a time. First, read the instructions carefully, and choose a paragraph of whatever length from Socrates’s Apology. Next, write down in the notebook your name, the date and time on which you participated, along with the first and last few words from your chosen paragraph, as well as the page number containing it. Then, use the marker to write each word from your chosen paragraph onto the silk cocoons that are kept under the desk. When you have finished, drop the cocoons into the plexiglass box in front of you, after which you may leave the room.” 

This work was commissioned by Nguyen Art Foundation.