My work examines issues of ethnic and national identity, and displacement as they relate to my childhood experience of forced migration. I was born and raised in Laos. Part of my family moved to Laos from Vietnam in the late 50s and others remained in Vietnam. My family came to the US as refugees in 1975 after US withdraw from Saigon. My relatives now live in three different parts of the world, the US, France, and Vietnam, and with my maternal grandfather’s ashes left in Laos.
In my search for connections with my family, re-occurring themes of displacement and dissonance of culture, language, and identity emerged in my work, revealing the trauma of dislocation and alienation.
I further explored a sense of self-alienation from the people close to me, by placing images of myself and my family within the context of colonial history, using the National Geographic magazine layout as a template through which to create a dialogue. The National Geographic magazine is iconic in its role of representing the “other.” A highly recognizable journal, founded during the period of “high imperialism,” not only references colonial conquests, but its links to photography and the image making process is in separable. I am in it as the observer and the observed, the subject and the viewer, the self and the other, the colonized and the empowered.