Before the appointed group meet-ups and bump in period for the project, I was able to talk to my Mother and Grandfather to gain more insight into their personal journey from Vietnam to Australia following the 2nd Indochina War (The Vietnam War). In doing this I am able to invest a personal side of myself into this work, in hopes to act as another catalyst for the project.
My Grandparents were persecuted, in having played a role in the South Vietnamese military during the war, making it difficult to provide a stable environment for their 5 (soon to be 6) child family. I was told about their experiences escaping the regime during the night in a boat built by my Grandfather himself. There were 40 people anticipated to climb on board but soon there was close to 100 present, all desperate to escape the conflict that had taken over the nation. During this time of despair, my Grandfather noted that so many factors were evident within the government, they were not focusing on the society around as it grew weaker and weaker. With these words I tried to imagine the setting of an overpopulated boat with no stable direction geographically and in it’s people who were now seeing themselves as ultimately stateless, and put them into words.
This is what I wrote:
I wrote this text in a way that it would not be tethered to a specific event, in this case the Vietnam War, and could be received and relative in many ways for people who have experienced similar hardships. In our work we focus on the way refugees have been forced to the limits of their safety and rights and have therefore left their lives in search for another. We have intended to depict a physical environment to which these very things have happened, and with the story I have captured I hope it reinforces and resonates within it.
Sam and I were also able to meet as a pair before the first day of preparation within the gallery and discuss further into how we could display the narrative I had teased out of my discussion with my family. We liked the notion of the story being materialised through the paper and onto the space we had, conveying the reality that this is what the story looks like, and this is what is left after abandonment. We thought that as the paper stretch over the space, pieces of paper with the passage I wrote could also ascend. But, as it rose, sections and words would be removed accordingly, dissipating as it progressed. This would act as a reminder that because of what has happened, this is now the reality as it branches out into the space.
The meet ups were successful, all members liked the idea of this story and the depiction of it that Sam and I discussed. Having the story and concept of our work finalised put us in a great position and for once it was the technical and placement elements which needed to be mainly dealt with. One of the sessions David, Sam and I changed the orientation of the work but deemed unsuccessful due to placement issues and clarity. So when we were all present in the last gathering we worked well as a team to pickup from our mistakes. There were many elements that were built and worked upon during these remaining group gatherings such as:
- Chloe and I were in charge of the reconstruction of the paper structure with the written passage attached
- Placement of all elements within the space being, well balanced, effective and reinforcing of each other
- Sam and David were able to iron the sheets, for a effective aesthetic
- Chelsea edited the projected window image as a video file, whereby we then were able to modify in terms of lighting so it was in a way animated, not just still.
- Having already recorded a live typing video of the text I composed, it was ready to be projected through the QUMI projector or digital photo-frame at the commencement of the paper branch. Where David heavily assisted me in the set up and formatting of this content
- Sam and I sourced some materials that were to be defined on top of the draped tables. Steph was able to present these items in a way that would communicate with each other effectively, bringing more substance to their intended depictions.
- We as a group finalised the lighting together, where shadows of the paper are effectively displayed onto the walls
As a group we were able to complete these elements and at the same time jam during the construction of our finalised piece, elevating the more effective parts of the work. Critically analysing components we were adjusting, adding, subtracting and emphasising in the final work. We are all overall pleased with the result orientation wise and it’s conceptual design.