VISION IN DARKNESS: TRAN TRUNG TIN 2015
Dinh Q Lê
Dinh Q Lê
Vision in Darkness reveals the life and work of Vietnamese artist, Tran Trung Tin (1933-2008), a short-film that begins with Tran’s bold public announcement from the Hanoi Film Studio in 1975, via telegram, ‘I withdraw from the state official workforce. I withdraw from the Communist Party’. Born in Saigon along the Mekong Delta, Tran’s unique life journey traverses his trials and tribulations as soldier, actor, Communist Party Secretary, and artist, whose movement from South to North Vietnam (and back) was deeply and traumatically colored by firstly his passion, disillusion, and eventual resignation with and from the Communist cause.
As director, Dinh Q Lê interviews several individuals in this documentary – intellectuals, fellow colleagues from the film industry, art historians, and Tran Trung Tin’s widow – who reveal Tran as a character of principle, who was not only socially ostracized from family and friends for his disavowal of Vietnam’s dominating political ideology, but also was never accepted as an artist by his artistic community due to his revelry in abstraction (an experimentation they blamed on his lack of a formal art education).
Throughout this short film, Lê interweaves images of Tran’s art – painted abstractions often on newspaper – these heavy gestural works suggestive of human figures in torment where bold swathes of color emotively reveal the medium as Tran’s only freedom of expression. During Tran’s era, the official art establishment of Vietnam did not permit experimentation in abstraction or nudity, instead demanding that artists follow ‘social realist’ motivation and technique to serve the country’s propaganda machine. It was Tran’s frustration with this control of artistic expression and production, its lack of truth in reflecting the dilemma’s of the Vietnamese people, that emboldened his immersion in abstraction – a practice today arguably finally recognized as an influential precursor to the growth of conceptual experimentation in Vietnamese post-war painting.
Production: Tuấn Andrew Nguyễn – TANQs Studio
Line producer: Nguyễn Xuân Phương
Cinematography and Camera: Phunam
Audio Recorder: Hồ Huy, Đỗ Vũ
Edition: Erik Truong, Tuấn Andrew Nguyễn
Music: Bình An Tất
Soundtrack mix: Trần Mạnh Hoàng, Otherworld Sound, Phù Hoàng Quân
Color and Effects: Erik Truong
English Subtitles: TANQ Studio
Production asistants: Nguyễn Thuỵ Diễm, Huỳnh Ngô Vân Anh
Artists: Trần Thị Huỳnh Nga, Trịnh Tú, Trịnh Thái, Tự Huy, Phạm Toàn, Sherry Buchanan, Lê Thiết Cương, Bùi Như Hương
Dinh Q Lê (b. 1968, Ha Tien, Vietnam) possesses a diverse practice that is mindful of the complex interweaving of official and non-official histories, particularly in the minds of those who have undergone events whose facts are given little humanity. His work challenges the digital age in its surplus of representational data to force, expand, and reflect upon the significance of each individual image. In 2007, he co-founded San Art (alongside Tuan Andrew Nguyen, Phu Nam Thuc Ha, and Tiffany Chung). Dinh Q Lê is considered one of Vietnam’s most established artists whose practice has an extensive exhibition history worldwide. He lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Special Feature: Vietnam
Sunday, 6 November, 2016