LETTERS FROM PANDURANGA 2015
Nguyễn Trinh Thi
Nguyễn Trinh Thi
In 1832, Panduranga, the last remaining territory of the Champa kingdom, was annexed by emperor Minh Mang of Dai Viet (ancient Vietnam). Now renamed Ninh Thuan province, the spiritual heart of this two-thousand-year matriarchal Hindu culture is again facing existential threats as the Vietnamese government plans to build the country’s first two nuclear power plants on its site. Letters from Panduranga, reflecting the form of a letter exchange between a man and a woman, responds to the plight of the Cham people, an ethnic minority culturally struggling under a government that refuses to acknowledge and respect its legitimation.
The silent, captured images of the Cham people carry a powerful desire for an open discourse about power and conflicting ideologies in the everyday. Narrated in the voice of two outsiders (both are Kinh people, the dominant voice of present-day Vietnam), the film also raises the crucial question of who is authorized to tell the stories of a community? The participant, observer, or conqueror?
This film shifts between documentary and fiction, carrying audience’s attention from foreground to background, between intimate portraits and distant landscapes. By implementing an ethnographic gaze in her film, evident in the portrait-oriented documentative techniques, Nguyễn offers reflections around the interconnected relationship between scientific fieldwork and art, while also emphasizing the role of the artist in their capacity to provide important perspective on vulnerable communities.
Nguyễn Trinh Thi (b. 1973, Hanoi, Vietnam) is an artist, filmmaker and documentarian. Her diverse practice has consistently investigated the role of memory in the necessary unveiling of hidden, displaced or misinterpreted histories, often making use of original documentary footage or undertaking extensive investigative field work. Her moving image work is diverse, moving between documentary and experimental film, alongside multi-channel installations and performance.
Thursday, 3 November, 2016