Phan Thao Nguyen


Magical bow (Lacquered time)


Watercolor on silk, mother of pearl inlay and lacquer on wood*
*Lacquer produced in collaboration with artist Đinh Văn Sơn

Installation dimensions variable

It is the codification of a historical truth memorialized with symbol (eg. the crossbow of betrayal), systematized by language (eg. traditional mythical tale), that ultimately enthralls and concerns Thao Nguyen Phan in its capacity to contain, visualize and transmit knowledge (eg. Ethical or moral lessons). In Magical Bow (Your Daughter is a Traitor), Phan’s bows float disarmed, without their trigger arrows, in stasis as if they have been summarily paused. They are like the powerless army of King An Duong Vuong, but for Phan the static state of this army is not the consequence of an absent golden turtle claw, but the misplacement of learned history – like a bow whose function is rendered decorative without its arrow, so is the past rendered merely descriptive without its record (the arrow carries us to the target; the written record carries us to the reasons why something occurred).

(Text courtesy of the artist)