Pirelli HangarBicocca presents the first solo exhibition in Italy of Thao Nguyen Phan. The Vietnamese artist, internationally recognised for her combined use of painting, moving-image and sculpture, creates dreamlike and poetic narratives that trace the history of her country in relation to contemporary environmental and social changes

words Emanuela Zini

For this occasion, the Foundation has co-produced Reincarnations of Shadows (moving-image-poem) (2023), a new video installation commissioned by Pirelli HangarBicocca to Thao Nguyen Phan that reflects on the transformative and regenerative potential of art.
By supporting this project, the Foundation continues its commitment to promoting, on the one hand, the activities of international art institutions and, on the other, the ways in which moving images can encourage a dialogue between different artistic languages and a critical analysis of urgent contemporary issues.

Thao Nguyen Phan, Reincarnations of Shadows (moving-image-poem), 2023_2

The new video installation Reincarnations of Shadows (moving-image-poem) (2023), from which the exhibition takes its title, delves into the figure of the artist Diem Phung Thi (1920-2002) – one of the first modernist women sculptors who lived and worked between France and Vietnam. Phan’s work offers a reflection on the social meanings of the history of art and architecture and the intergenerational relationships between women artists in post-colonial contexts. The artist questions the possibilities of the reincarnation and re-signification of hidden symbols, gestures and rituals that have remained in the shadows, passed down through whispered oral narratives and often overpowered by the lingering effects of colonialism.

The exhibition “Reincarnations of Shadows” transforms the space of the Shed at Pirelli HangarBicocca into a fluid environment in which sounds, images and narratives combine in a journey through multiple temporalities and the central themes of Phan’s practice: the relationship between man and nature; the cultural intermingling of East and West, tradition and modernity, locality and globality; the combination of memory, folklore and fable to create collective narratives as an alternative to the historical factuality imposed by dominant political forces.
“Reincarnations of Shadows” is accompanied by a monograph dedicated to the artist that brings together a plurality of perspectives and includes contributions by Lucia Aspesi and Fiammetta Griccioli, Phan Dinh Hoi, Andrea Lissoni, Han Nefkens, Roger Nelson, Quyên Nguyễn-Hoàng, Alessandro Rabottini and Filipa Ramos.