Labyrinth and fairyland

Featuring works by Síu Phạm, Jean-Luc Mello, Đỗ Văn Hoàng, Nguyễn Phương Linh

Having observed the prolapsing hinges of time, one day, the artists stepped in and ventured. On and on they went, sharing no particular destination, but they all came to realise that it was a maze they were travelling through, and it was exactly what the divine Nghệ has promised about paradise.

This paradise was not blissful but strenuous, and all there was were the promises of a faraway elysium. The turns they went through only opened up to boundless immensity, just like the labyrinth game of the childhood days, and the reward is happiness at the end of the road – escape.

Happiness has escaped.

The films, not classified into any genres, neither documentary, animation nor fiction, they have merged with each other just like how the paradise has blended with the labyrinth. Who knows if this is a movie or not.

Síu Phạm with Jean-Luc Mello và Đỗ Văn Hoàng, Kẻ đi tìm hình ảnh và mụ phù thủy (The image-seeker and the witch) (2022) | 13:00

A tin soldier has to embark on a mission of finding images, then gets lost in the maze without an exit…unaware he himself is melting in the universe.

Đỗ Văn Hoàng, Butterfly and Starling (2023) | 25:00

One time, the starling dreams that it is a butterfly and it is flying around happily, beautifully, without any worries. Suddenly the starling wakes up and is surprised when it realizes that it is a starling. It doesn’t know whether it is a starling dreamt of being a butterfly or a butterfly dreamt of being a starling. Starlings and butterflies are definitely different, but in nature, they all dance harmoniously with each other.

Síu Phạm, Swallow an angel (2009) | 47:00 

One body and four seasons: Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer 

Hanging in the air, my head upside down

One season 7 days,

One day one window, 

Alone and bare, without care for the weather … and the indifference of the audience.

Nguyễn Phương Linh, The encounter (2021) | 17:00

Male characters are roped into various situations and different gestures, facing each other in a nonexistent maze, in the middle of a barren landscape with the ocean, earth and salt. One man runs like he is being chased with no destinations in sight, one man ages in his own house, one man smokes, one man recites poetry of fruitless love,  one drowns in sorrow, and one exercises. Everything is enveloped by the corpse of a faceless woman. The father of Phương Linh in his youth meets himself in this performance. This installation includes other performances of the father of the artist, his close friends and other artists from Nhasan Collective, Sao La Collective, and Appendix.

Síu Phạm, Sing an idle song (2020) | 8:00

One day, on a trip returning to Saigon, a faraway traveler reunites with a friend at a drinking table. They sing together. The traveler feels like the journey away from home has never started.

Đỗ Văn Hoàng, from Hải Phòng, graduated from the Hanoi Academy of Theater and Cinema, makes films.

Síu Phạm was born in Hà Nội, studied philosophy, art, theater and cinema. Since 1990, she has worked in Geneva (Switzerland) as a director of modern drama. In 2011, she made her first feature-length feature film Here… or there? and attended the Busan International Film Festival (Korea). Her second feature film, Homostratus – Mother’s Room (2013) won the Best Unique Vision Award of the Queens World Film Festival (USA). In addition to feature-length films such as The Road on the Mountain (2017), Into Life (2019), Síu Pham also made many other short documentaries.

Born in 1943 in Switzerland, Jean-Luc Mello is a professor of printmaking, art and design at the Ecal School of Fine Arts in Lausanne. He started painting from the age of 18 until now and has exhibited in Paris, Geneva, Lausanne, Neuchâtel in the years 1990-2009. He married Síu Phạm in 1990 and with her made many documentaries in Switzerland. They have completed two feature films That… or this? (2011), Homostratus – Mother’s Room (2013), The Mountain Road (2017) and Into Life (2019)

Phương Linh Nguyễn’s multidisciplinary practices span video, installation and sculpture. Her work contemplates upon the visible/invisible truth, form and time, weight and void, conveying a pervasive sense of dislocation, endurance, and ephemerality. Phương Linh Nguyễn was born and raised in Nhà Sàn Studio – based in her father’s home, it’s considered one of the longest established non-profit artist-run spaces in Hanoi. In 2013, she co- founded and since then has been co-directing Nhà Sàn Collective with her close artist friends. Together, they participated in Documenta 15 curated by Ruangrupa in 2022. Phương Linh’s works have been featured in various local and international exhibitions, including Asian Pacific Triennial 2021, the Singapore Biennale, Kuandu Biennale Taipei, Shanghai Biennale in 2016 HIWAR Darat AL Funnun Jordan 2014. She won the Han Nefkens Foundation-BACC Award for Contemporary Art.

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