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Artist Talk: The Prolonged Interventions with Le Phi Long

December 14, 2016 | 10:56 am GMT+7
Opening: 04:00 pm, Sat 17 Dec 2016
The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, 15 Nguyen U Di, Thao Dien, District 2, Ho Chi Minh City.

Explore Le Phi Long's site-specific art through photographs, installation and video documentary.

The Prolonged Interventions features photographs and an installation by Le Phi Long, accompanied by a video documentary directed by Le Phi Long, commissioned and produced by Madeleine Cao - founder of the social enterprise OpenM Corp.

Initially trained in interior design, Le Phi Long states that site plays an important role in influencing the audience’s experience with a photograph or installation. These objects, in return, can provide keys to challenge conventional assumptions about the site, or unlock discourses and social issues pertinent to it.

One such issue that concerns him is the impact of human waste on the land.

Thus, his project at The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre (The Factory), The Prolonged Interventions, explores both Lê’s fascination with site and his preoccupation with the overwhelming presence of waste in both urban and rural environments.

The photographic series Hidden Future is documentation of a site-specific project that Le produced as part of a larger environmental endeavor called ‘Clean Up the Beach’, organized by OpenM Corp. Situated on Ly Son Island, an increasingly popular travel destination in Quang Ngai Province, Vietnam, the production of these photographs was a collaborative effort between Le and 70 volunteers to collect garbage around the island, sort it according to size, shape, and colors, and stitch the pieces together with rope to create a ‘trash’ nets that wraps around To Vo Gate – Ly Son’s iconic limerock archway created by volcano lava and worn out by sea waves over millions of years.

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The video documentary Hidden Future, directed by Le, commissioned and produced by Madeleine Cao, archives the efforts that the volunteers put into cleaning up the island, supporting Le with the site-specific project at To Vo Gate, and organizing waste management and environmental education workshops for the local people in Ly Son.

Le’s works in The Prolonged Interventions continue the tradition of site-specificity in the visual arts, which originated in the United States and Europe in the 1970s. ‘Site-specific art’essentially refers to a work created to exist in response to a specific site. It was born out of artists’ criticism of museums as institutions that prescribe rules for artists and viewers, and the ‘modernist artwork’ as transportable, commodified, and existing solely in ‘white cube’ spaces. Thus, artists shifted focus to site and its context. 

Le Phi Long lends his voice to this growing experimental discourse with his artistic practice, which has previously engaged specific histories attached to many sites in Hue (his hometown), the Red River in Hanoi, and the Yamingshan area, Taipei, Taiwan. Through his photographs, installations, and performances, Lê wants to initiate conversations, without being didactic, about the impact of humans’ lifestyle on our environment, to seek solutions that are more organic in connecting humanity with nature.

The title of this project - The Prolonged Interventions- alludes to the artist’s desire to extend and prolong the urgently needed discourse about human’s relationship with nature, about waste and its impact on human daily lives and the environments, by creating a space where we are asked to ethically confront the damage that we have caused to our planet.

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