Tears of a Swan / 2013 / sculpture
Quynh Dong takes us on a journey into her studies of movement, of what has to be done from the vanishing point. The artist maps or sketches the affectual orientation and disposition of her practices, concerned with the politics of movement and its formal aesthetics. They confront her immediately with the affect and its practical and theoretical implications, as the affect always brings something unstable in the encounter between forces and mutable matter, through performative inversions of a choreographic web, like a dance of space/time whose distortions affect, able to induce the migration of the image or to decolonize bodies, as affect is resistance, too.
The artist’s interest in the affect lies in its potentiality of opening her practices towards an ethico-aesthetic paradigm in which race, class and sex become affective forms that are not directly inscribed in the bodies and the subjects, but are political spaces. This moves the bodies and subjects away from identitarian constructions and their cultural limitations. Identities, understood as projections of the signifier, are dispersed in the field of the affect with is forces liberating them, which become able to create themselves as a process of self-organizing and self-inventing subjectivities.
The artist deliberately exaggerates the femininity of her female characters, such as to affirm the ongoing feminization of affective labor inherent in the post-colonial landscape of late global capitalism. This embodied femininity, with its fragility and weakness, has the power to induce a creative melancholic opening that intensifies the flowing ephemera, re-appropriating them and the affect from the post-Fordist economic relations and recent rapid technological developments. She sets out, by means of art, to fill the atmosphere with fleeting implications of e-motions and sentiments that make the spectator feel how their perceptions depend on the conditions and the angle of their position in the space. The affect is for real, which means that its arrival serves as a force on her work that sometimes is rather non-work, which in the range of the affect lose their opposite values as the artistic practices are extended to the aesthetics of existence, i.e., “how to affect and how to be affected.”
Despite the apparent solidity of Quynh Dong’s sculptural installations, where she abandons the human subject in the fever of disjointed pieces of glossy ceramic leaves from the chalices of moribund flowers running away from each other. They are sculptural assemblages of oversize copies of pieces of dying matter, which emphasize their partial relations in the generating structures. In close-up, their surface becomes quantized, which leads to the idea that the world has a resolution. Their assembled ontology is a convoluted space oriented towards the virtual, trapping the perception into an installation process embodying optimistic cruelty that performs with striking effects to model the space in patterns patterning the plane. It brings the spectator directly to the heart of phantasm. The phantasm and the apparent solidity of the object are both flux and concrete, one turning into the other depending on the spectator’s distance to the object, which changes their picture of the world.
“Art is an object of Beauty!” states Quynh Dong about her work. She sees the position of the artist in old fashion as the copyist of nature who questions reality, reaching a romantic overmodel of it and even kitsch. The copyist’s gesture evokes the law of the copy and the matrix in a biopolitical sense. The copyist-artist can be seen as embodying the dark side of grace, as the artist gets access to the weak forces of a second nature of something artificial and plastic, which breaks the symmetry of the laws of physics and can capture and sustain the natural glamour and attraction of the dying flower like the frozen ripples of space/time, modeling the reality of decay and the noise of the entropic process. Could this be the noise coming from the degrees of microscopic freedom of the entropic process? Indeed, there is hidden information in the solid objects, which can be understood as the intervals between “the infinity of little affective events,” induced by the relation of rest and accelerated movement of the virtual images blocked between the particles of solid matter. These oscillations are the creative resistance of the material. The waving reality of the hysteresis of the forces within the clay and their virtual potentialities meet the hesitating line the artist traces into it. In this sculptography, the network of objects becomes a system that claims that “the social is always more than human,” as assemblages are always social, and the social lies in the principle of connectivity. The links between them have to be composed by the audience walking among them. One can never be sure where these delusive statements are the noise of the ripples of laughter, or the artist’s own laughter, and where it has to be taken very seriously.
Text: Dimitrina Sevova