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April 23–November 27, 2022
We are happy to announce that First Rain, Brise Soleil (2021–ongoing), by artist Thao Nguyen Phan, and produced by the Han Nefkens Foundation, is part of The Milk of Dreams, curated by Cecilia Alemanni, for the 59th International Venice Biennale, and will be featured at the Arsenale, until November 27, 2022. First Rain, Brise Soleil was premiered at Tate St. Ives, as part as Phan’s solo exhibition.
First Rain, Brise Soleil (2021–ongoing) addresses US imperialism in the region and the 1977–1991 war between Vietnam and Cambodia. The film opens with the fictional narrative of a Vietnamese-Khmer construction worker who specializes in brise-soleil, the concrete lattices for shading and ventilating buildings that, in cities like Ho Chi Minh City (before 1976 named Saigon), unite a traditional Vietnamese building technique with a modern material linked to US domination. The film’s second half, set during the 18th century’s feudal wars, centers on a folkloric love story between a Vietnamese medicinal healer and a Khmer woman that unfolds around the symbolic significance of a durian (or “thouren”) fruit, a major product of the Mekong Delta. Contrasting the solitude of Saigon’s urban setting with the deceptively lush landscape of the Mekong, the video addresses romantic love from several women’s perspectives, producing a narrative that transforms and flows like the river itself.
The Milk of Dreams takes its title from a book by Leonora Carrington (1917–2011)—Cecilia Alemani stated—in which the Surrealist artist describes a magical world where life is constantly re-envisioned through the prism of the imagination. It is a world where everyone can change, be transformed, become something or someone else. The Exhibition The Milk of Dreams takes Leonora Carrington’s otherworldly creatures, along with other figures of transformation, as companions on an imaginary journey through the metamorphoses of bodies and definitions of the human.”
Thao Nguyen Phan lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Trained as a painter, Phan is a multimedia artist whose practice encompasses video, painting and installation. Drawing from literature, philosophy and daily life, Phan observes ambiguous issues in social conventions and history. She started working in film when she began her MFA in Chicago. Phan exhibits internationally, with solo and group exhibitions including Tate St Ives, (Cornwall, UK, 2022); Chisenhale gallery (London, 2020); WIELS (Brussels, 2020); Rockbund Art Museum (Shanghai, 2019); Lyon Biennale (Lyon, 2019); Sharjah Biennial (Sharjah Art Foundation, 2019); Gemäldegalerie (Berlin, 2018); Dhaka Art Summit (2018); Para Site (Hong Kong, 2018); Factory Contemporary Art Centre (Ho Chi Minh City, 2017); Nha San Collective (Hanoi, 2017); and Bétonsalon (Paris, 2016), among others.
She was shortlisted for the 2019 Hugo Boss Asia Art Award and she was granted the Han Nefkens Foundation—LOOP Barcelona Video Art Production Award 2018, in collaboration with Fundaciò Joan Mirò. In addition to her work as a multimedia artist, she is co-founder of the collective Art Labor, which explores cross disciplinary practices and develops art projects that benefit the local community. Thao Nguyen Phan is expanding her “theatrical fields,” including what she calls performance gesture and moving images. Phan is a 2016-2017 Rolex Protégée, mentored by internationally acclaimed, New York-based, performance and video artist, Joan Jonas.
Han Nefkens Foundation
The Han Nefkens Foundation is a private, non-profit organisation set up in Barcelona in 2009 by Dutch writer and patron, Han Nefkens. It focuses on the production of video art, with the aim of connecting people through art across the world, collaborating with renowned international art institu- tions. The Foundation’s founding values have defined it from the beginning as an innovative and for- ward-thinking model: a production hub that oversees and promotes contemporary creation from the very first moments until the final presentation. Positioned as a platform for video artists to advance their careers, its main activity is to commission new works through its awards and grants on an international level.
The Venice Biennale
Campo de la Tana, 2169/f