O, is an address, an utterance emerging from the body, passing the threshold of the throat and mouth then thrust out into the open. It’s a circle, the return of what has been presented as finished, done or stuck in the past, back into the present and the material world – it records the previously unrecorded or inserts it back into the archive. The work in this exhibition participates in the update of the collective archive - a living organism made of intimate stories and macro-narratives that power dynamics usually shape. It examines the past, official and unofficial histories, myths, and personal stories which accumulate and seep into the present through the physicality of the exhibited work.


Tammy Nguyen exhibits artist books that interact with the concept of “O” and further the exploration of themes that Nguyen already engages with in her latest book, Phong Nha, the Making of an American Smile (Ugly Duckling Press, 2020). Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, a manmade island called Forest City in the Strait of Malacca, as well as cave formations in Phong Nha (Vietnam) are part of the narrative. The artist books are also based on two pieces of music: the old South Vietnamese national anthem, for which the father of Nguyen’s dentist was a lyricist, and a country song reminiscent of a tune sung by the porter that Nguyen followed into a cave formation in Phong Nha. The artist positions these two songs as opposing forces; the books feature drawings from the score of both songs and incorporates sculptural elements, contrasting textures, and hidden illuminated sections that only appear when a page is turned.

March 6, 2021