artist statement

My art practice emerges from a place of departure, rupture, presence, and possibilities as a child of refugees. Through embodied research, performance, installation, and community engagement I explore ecologies of freedom, migration, borders, and war to reveal histories of violence and imagine decolonial futures. 

In my performance work, I engage with memory, cartography, and objects to investigate processes of knowledge and historical production. Specifically, I use improvisation, archival research, sensorial experimentation, and haptic exploration to examine the overt and subtle entanglements of subjection and subjectivity. I conjure memory through objects as a method of researching historical archives by sensing through the body, immersing myself in deep meditation with the materiality of culturally specific objects and its haptic relationality to the body as a way of knowing that challenges positivism and uncovers erasures from state violence. I compose with official and unofficial cartographies of nation-states, migration routes, city development plans, and personal narratives to unearth performative gestures of cutting, building, patching, and erasing as methods of creating dis/location.

Central to my practice is đất nước, which, translated from Vietnamese means both “land and water” and “country/nation/homeland.” Land and water are significant geopolitical and aesthetic materials I experiment with in its absence/presence to understand the relationship between sustenance, forced migration, and the politics of life/death. More specifically, my recent work with food and gastronomy centers the senses and is grounded in oral history interviews to evoke old and imagined memories while playing with food’s deconstruction and construction through extraction processes and building culinary dishes as sculpture. Food becomes a passageway wherein memory is derived as entrypoints into historical narratives of war and resettlement in moments when food was escape, torture, abundant, and scarce. As I study the transformation of soil as land and water into various material states, both individually and in combination, I return to an examination of ecosystems that become weaponized and are simultaneously sites of transgressive possibilities. 

Community engagement is a fundamental ethos of my practice as an artist committed to social justice. My approach to community engagement is rooted in performance studies, women of color feminist theory, and Black radical thought as I work at the co-constitutive intersection of art and politics. I critically engage with publics through performance, installation, and curated happenings as a platform for dialogue, healing, and community building. My artistic work is thus always in a continuous conversation with communities as places of returns and departures cultivating decolonial imaginaries as a practice of freedom.