150 × 220 cm
Edition: 1, unique piece
Materials: sand, sodium carbonate, photosensitive liquid crystals,blown glass, cut glass, cast glass, metal, magnets
Simone Hoàng (1982), grounded in Vietnam and adopted in the Netherlands as a 14-year-old child, has faced a deep ambiguity over the last 25 years because of her double cultural identity. She experienced difficulties in accessing her ‘own’ culture because the ‘other’ culture had presented itself far more dominantly. Therefore, she couldn’t fathom all of its values and beliefs.
In general, Hoàng’s point of view is to critically scrutinize how received views and dominant patterns of thinking and seeing come about. She does so with the underlying intention of counterbalancing them with alternative or inverted models. In the installation work Obscure, she metaphorically tries to bridge her split-cultural identity by reshuffling the ‘presets’ that had caused the imbalance.
Hoàng started an intense retreat in Vietnam in which she took sand from her childhood ground and had it turned into glass plates by specialist Viet- namese glass blowers. In return, she did the same with soil from near her adoptive ground in the Netherlands. She deliberately added photosensitive liquid during the glass-blowing process, as a result of which the glass objects have been made photosensitive. Without any further intervention by Hoàng, these light-sensitive glass objects develop themselves automatically over time – as a form of self-generating content. And we, as onlookers, are virtually ‘captured’ in the viewing glass and become part of the process.
As a refreshing gesture, she reverses a deep-rooted way of being in the world; now the (viewing) ‘subject’ coincides and blends with the (viewed) ‘object’ – as the ultimate synthesis of opposing parts.
The combined Dutch and Vietnamese glass pieces on the wall are supported by five of the tone marks, also set in glass, which in Vietnamese determine the meaning of the word to which they apply. For Hoàng, the tonality of the Vietnamese language triggers issues surrounding the nature of interpretation that seem comparable to that of the world of images. Again, and as an extra dimension, Hoàng triggers the idea of unlearning one’s pre-conditioned frame of mind. This opens the way for her to transmit a personal story with a universal resonance. With Obscure, Hoàng sets off an evocative process in which she playfully unsettles the basic notions of the many dualities that shape our very existence.
Text by art historian Frank van der Stok (http://vdstok.com/)