Mixed-media (found blue and white porcelain, quicklime, paper, ink).
‘I wish for the word thì to be seen in overlapping, stuttering repetitions so that we can think about time at the moment the notebook is opened, and about what has happened, what is unfolding, and what will be left open to the capricious future.’
When we open the hefty book by Dương Thanh Quang, its cover made from broken fragments of rice bowls, incense burners, and worship instruments buried in the debris scattering along the edge of the citadel, what do we see? A thousand reiterations of the word thì, which in English could be translated as ‘then’, ‘time’ or ‘grammatical tense’.
The word ‘then’ 1/ demonstrates that the following clause is a possible/ certain outcome of the hypothesis or condition stated hitherto; 2/ demonstrates a coordinating relationship between the two clauses in an ‘if… then…’ sentence; 3/ demonstrates sequential actions, where one event takes place following another; 4/ (in Vietnamese) signals expository, complementary details to what was stated previously; and 5/ (in Vietnamese) signals a sarcastic negation of what follows by feigning affirmation. Playing with the multiple meanings of a single word, in Quang’s work, language becomes a space of possibilities, mirroring both the bleak reality and uncertain future of life on the edge of the citadel.
Description from No more, not yet Exhibition Catalog, 2023.