Artist's Book presented on Sunday the 15th of December 2019 at Atelier Van Lieshout, Rotterdam.
35 × 25 cm, 2019
Three different tinted prints of the same passport photo. The coloured dots of the film gravitate towards the colours red, green and blue, and this means that the colours needed to portray a different skin colour are less likely to appear. And of those three thin emulsion layers that determine the colour, the red-sensitive layer is at the bottom. Yellow, brown and red. Unexposed rolls of film go into an acid bath so that the colours of the emulsion layer come to the top and are then separated again using another procedure.
Dutch, English and Vietnamese, Hanne Hagenaars (text), studio Hendriksen (design), offset printed by ZwaanLenoirSchuring and riso printed by studio Hendriksen, bound and sealed by J. Voetelink & Zoon BV, 3 monotone prints (folded) on Chromolux 90 gr/m2 in Malmero Mangue 300 gr/m2, Keaykolour Chili Pepper 300 gr/m2 and Keaykolour Old Rose 300 gr/m2 sleeves plus letter on Opakal 60 gr/m2, De Monsterkamer (paper advice), 45 copies.
Going back through my notes, I see that the photo of your mother is to be read universally. ‘It must go beyond what is personal’, you said. ‘The work may well be about my Vietnamese mother, yes, it is her portrait. Or rather, no, it’s the passport photo from her ID card, that is important.’
I can barely recall the conversation from my scribbled notes. About how you set to work with laboratory assistants to develop an acid enabling you to separate the colours of a negative. About brushed stainless steel. Confrontation mirrors, reinforced glass. It was a nice intense conversation, full of technology and full of black holes. ‘Black holes confront us with the greatest challenge in physics: how to reconcile the largest structures of the universe with the smallest structures.’1 The universal and the personal. So much scientific research in order to give the love for your mother a right to exist – flashed through my mind. And at that time I did not yet realise how special your love is.
I saw the work Nude in the living room of its brand new owner, Joep van Lieshout. There she was again: your mother. Three differently tinted prints of the same passport photo. A parting in her hair. Her gaze, modest and shy. Infinitely gentle. Elusive. I look at her, but she is looking just past me with her eyes raised slightly upwards.
In the yellow print, the face has almost disappeared into the paper. In the red version, the hair frames the young face, which lights up like a narrow heart-shape. The brown version is readable as a black and white photo. The blocks of colour lie under the three upright portraits, brown, red and yellow, as a response to that sweet gentle face. As if the colours have leaked downwards and have been caught there by three equally sized pieces of paper. They marble the sheet. Title: Nude
Sometimes her name: Hoàng Thị Như Hảo.