Adrift in Darkness

Digital print on Awagami bamboo paper, laser cut and woven onto cane structure. Dimensions variable.


Dinh Q. Lê is known as one of the first generation Việt kiều artists who has garnered success both locally and internationally. I have not seen many of his works in person for he rarely exhibits them in Vietnam.

In one of my first assignments at The Factory where I used to work back in 2019, I came across his work on the Internet: the documentary film entitled Light and Belief (2012). This film, along with 102 war sketches by artists uỳnh Phương Đông, Vũ Giáng Hương, Lê Lam, Quang Thọ, Nguyễn Thụ, Nguyễn Thanh Châu, Quách Phong, Nguyễn Toàn Thi, Trương Hiếu, Phan Oánh, Dương Ánh, Minh Phương and Kim Tiến were shown at documenta 13 (Kassel, Germany, 2012). In terms of cinematography, the film is rather simple with very little editing, as if to only document and interview the aforementioned wartime artists as they are (Dinh also collects some of their works). In the documentary, all of the artists were already in their old age. When asked about their work during the war, their eyes lit up; they talked about their love for the country, some even could not hold back their tears at the mention of Uncle Hồ.

I remember vividly that I was very touched when I first saw this film. This kind of experience felt like an ideological awakening for me at the time, later, along with other experiences, it reinforced and laid the foundation for my own curatorial practice. Dinh could have done more for the film in terms of editing and directing. Perhaps, he did receive similar comments. For me, what is important is what he chose not to do, and how he kept the work in its rawest form, with no narration or commentary from him as an artist. If we take into account his biography, this choice prompts me to think deeply about ethics in conjunction with aesthetics.

By inviting him to join this exhibition, I want to express my gratitude towards Dinh.

Description from White Noise Exhibition Brochure, 2023, p. 8.


It takes reference from the images of people packed so tightly on a rickety old boat, floating in the middle of a dark ocean. As one who did the same to escape the harsh Vietnamese communist regime at the time, issues of this mass exodus and the fear and rejection of Europeans have been on my mind lately. I like to think that we are all sitting on a rock and floating in this dark universe. The faces are drawn from images of large group protests from all over the world. As the world’s population grows larger, conflicts arise as more people cross territories. Anger and hatred abound, but we all need to step back and take a look at where we are.

Original statement by the artist from White Noise Exhibition Brochure, 2023, p. 7.