Tammy Nguyen lives and works in Easton, US
My practice is an exploration of contradiction and confusion. I create narratives and images that collapse geopolitical, environmental, and spiritual subjects; in so doing, my composite imagery aims to challenge viewers’ comfort in “the known” by luring them to look closely and slowly at images that are niche and specific.
For the 12th Berlin Biennale, I have created fourteen paintings depicting the stations of the cross. This body of work is inspired by a Catholic park located in a Vietnamese refugee camp on Pulau Galang, a small island of the Riau Archipelago in Indonesia. Planted throughout this park are gold statues, each depicting a different station of the cross. Catholicism is a colonial legacy, yet it offers many Vietnamese people salvation and prayer that is true and vivid. It is paradoxical and significant that these refugees’ pursuit of liberty and democracy in the “West” was encouraged by scripture that accompanied several colonial campaigns of Western origins.
According to the ancient Christian scholar Origen, angels who tamper with sin will transform into swarms of insects. The environment of Pulau Galang is permeated by insects, so my depiction of the Catholic epic is consumed by wild and primal tropical scenery filled not only with insects but also with other animals and plants that seem imbued with their own free will. In these fourteen images, the tropics eat Christendom and represent the world with a different logic of figure and foreground. The central story—Christ’s crucifixion—is obscured, keeping the viewers’ eyes moving, seeking sense in the familiar tale but ceasing to find comfort or rest.
Wonder Women, 2022, Jeffrey Deitch, New York City (US)
Greater New York 2021, MoMA PS1, New York City (US)
O, 2021, FiveMyles, New York City (US) (solo)
Freehold, 2021, Smack Mellon, New York City (US) (solo)
Spring Break Art Fair 2020: Neo-Ornamentalist Redux, 2020, New York City (US)
Cave Matter, 2020, Hesse Flatow, New York City (US) (solo)