Waltz of the Machine Equestrians

Installation 1 channel, color, stereo artist's proof (edition of 5 + 1 AP).


This work was inspired by the movement of the traffic in Ho Chi Minh City. Nguyen uses raincoats, clips and rubber strings to connect 28 scooter riders into what appears to be a choreographed 'scooter dance. Seen either as a group of moving tents of a contemporary nomadic tribe, or a test of tensions between an individual and its collective, the streets are transformed into a stage for the scooter dancers.

The artist reimagines a heroic celebration of modernity, where rural land was paved for urban roads and the convenience of motorized transportations. The climax, however, occurs when the collective breaks free from their binding structures. This conveys a certain ambivalence towards the present and the anticipation for a different kind of change in the future.

Waltz of the Machine Equestrians evokes a mixed sense of joy, liberation, repression and inner sorrow, enveloped by joyful colors and celebratory music. The Đổi Mới or economic reforms introduced in 1986 in Vietnam seemed to have given hope to the masses.

Today, with the normalization of the capitalistic approach to life and success, it seems to be more possible for an individual to break free from the chains of socialist dogma. Yet in achieving one’s dream, it is also forced to break various bonds with family, society, and even motherland.

Text by curator Naomi Wang and Nguyễn Như Huy extracted from the catalogue in exhibition If the Word Changed - Singapore Biennale 2013.