Diane Severin Nguyen


Tyrant Star


Single-channel video, color, sound


Filmed mostly on the outskirts of Saigon, Tyrant Star features rich and meticulously constructed shots of a place both dead and alive, authentic and fake. Composed of three chapters, throughout the film, we see the ‘star’ transmuting from symbol, to icon, to flesh. The film’s landscape alternates between tall buildings and construction sites, and forest paths strewn with garbage and organic waste. In the voiceover, lovers speak of romance crushed by material hardships. Diane creates a world that is familiar yet strange. Though the waste is a recognizable sign of densely populated urban areas, in her short, bright plastic bags float amidst the greenery like ripe exotic fruits, and sensuality pervades each frame. The story then slips into a feverish dream, where a young girl gazes out through her gauzy blush-pistachio colored curtains, and sings Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence, watching herself perform on a laptop – a stylized reenactment of a fantasy that, in our mediated age, many teenagers, rich and poor, find at their fingertips.

(Edited from text excerpts provided by the artist and Hyperallergic)