Resistance Can Be Quiet (2011)
These photographs were taken inside Vietnamese Catholic churches and convents built during French colonialism in rural northern Viet Nam. In 1954, after the Communist party took over northern Viet Nam and the country was divided into two, most Catholics fled south. Those who remained in the north held uncomfortable positions, negotiating their places within the Communist Party and within the church. Examining their interior spaces, these photographs were an attempt to consider questions around western perceptions of colonialism. The division between what is “native” and “outside” are unclear in photographic descriptions that belie a truth of origin.
These photographs relate to each other in conversation through a kind of logic of association, in an attempt to reveal a logic of colonialism based on the idea that only commercial society produces the material and cultural conditions that enable individuals to realize their potential for freedom and self-government.
This project interrogates the aesthetics of this postcolonial condition, which is problematically based on a notion of a linear temporal progression. The photographs serve as a kind of language for colonialism; each signifier diverges and recombines into a kind of garden of forking paths a la Borges. The photographs function indexically but also like the garden of forking paths, with multiple temporalities existing simultaneously. The photographs in relation to each other and in relation to the objects installed with them – gesture towards and suggest multiple temporalities.