Dreaming of celluloid

Dinh Q. Lê and Christian Tomaszewski at Tufts
By EVAN J. GARZA  |  January 12, 2009

Dinh Q. Lê, Persistence of Memory #11

Of the handful of contemporary Asian shows on view in and around Boston this winter, that of Dinh Q. Lê should prove unique — if only because the Vietnamese condition is so far removed from the rest of East Asia’s cultural boom. Opening January 22 at the Tufts University Art Gallery, “A TAPESTRY OF MEMORIES: THE ART OF DINH Q. LÊ” is a survey of works from museums and private collections that includes two video installations, two white-on-white fabric embroideries, and an installation. The highlight, however, will be 18 of Lê’s trademark photo-weavings, which weave strips of Hollywood film stills, Western product logos, and anonymous vintage photos of Vietnamese men and women during the Vietnam War together in a Vietnamese grass-mat technique. The result is a unifying yet disrupted fusion where new images keep forming and disappearing. Lê was born in Ha Tien in 1968, but his family fled to Los Angeles in 1979 after his home town was invaded by Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime. Based now in Ho Chi Minh City, he weaves not only memories and histories but also the Eastern and Western identities that are inherent in his perspective.

Also opening at Tufts on January 22 will be “CHRISTIAN TOMASZEWSKI: HUNTING FOR PHEASANTS,” an installation by the New York–based artist featuring video, a painted maze on the gallery’s floor, and posters for non-existent Polish films suspended over several bands of color painted on gallery walls. Born in Gdansk in 1971, Tomaszewski was inspired by the Polish Poster School of the 1960s and ’70s, and his installation will offer more than 60 posters — some made with tempera, drawing, collage, and stained glass. Select works draw inspiration from James Bond films as the set-up for a story of assassination victims, and the show’s title is an analogy that compares bird hunting to politically motivated killings. The maze implores audiences to view the exhibition in a non-linear narrative format, in keeping with the artist’s fondness for film and a previous installation in which he re-created spaces and props from David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. And though the works in the Remis Sculpture Court and Koppelman Gallery aren’t intended to translate cinema into an installation, they do, like Mr. Lynch, use narrative elements and space to disorient the viewer. If only Laura Dern were involved somehow.

 “A TAPESTRY OF MEMORIES: THE ART OF DINH Q. LÊ” AND “CHRISTIAN TOMASZEWSKI: HUNTING FOR PHEASANTS” at Tufts University Art Gallery, 40R Talbot Ave, Medford | January 22–March 29 | 617.627.3518 orwww.ase.tufts.edu/gallery

Related: Review: The Disappearance of McKinley Nolan, David Lynch | Crazy Clown Time, Review: The best of the Ottawa International Animation Film Festival, More more >
  Topics: Museum And Gallery , BLUE VELVET, Evan Garza, A TAPESTRY OF MEMORIES: THE ART OF DINH Q. LÊ,  More more >
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