Sand and Dust
In this thesis work, Sand and Dust is an installation containing multiple types of work, including short videos, short film, sound, photograph, and documentary. “Sand and Dust” title is inspired by the title of the song written by Trinh Cong Son. This song abstracts the concepts of life and death in Buddhism. I use this title to refer to the discussion of existentialism which is embedded in the survival and struggle of An Bang villagers through the war and post-war. They strive to have a fulfilling life by pursuing a rich lifestyle and hope to reach “the other shore” through inevitable death.The exhibition is divided into three sections. Each section suggests an ingredient to create a wide picture of An Bang village. The exhibition is a showcase of my discovery of the hidden history, untold stories, trauma memory of An Bang people who lived through the Đổi Mới policy. This also shows my observations centered on the relationship between remittances and life conditions of An Bang’s in-waiting migrant villagers. This body of work captures the contradictions and incompatibility of truth and falsity of belonging, living, dreaming, and dying about the complex memory of war which they are intrinsically connected and yet perhaps, also removed. First part of the short film Transit shows the relationships between remittance and ancestor tomb in An Bang village and how this view is in a transnational remittancescape. The second part comprises three short videos titled 1 second, 30 years, Cha- Cha- Cha, and I am going to die anyway. The videos document three different elder women who are determined to “fail refugees” surviving through Vietnam’s “re-education camp”. These videos are also the observation of the way people of An Bang prepare for their death which correlates with the war history and locates continuities between the spirit and physical worlds. The third section contains the installation of a photograph that is associated with the local religious realm and the history transposition. As viewers experience this whole exhibition, they will discover how conflicting views of the afterlife accurately capture their ambivalent feelings about death and alive.
While Transit has been rather a traditional film pursuit, I also involved some experimental approaches. Rather than showing documents of my interview with the villager, I paraphrased his exact words into the script so that my main character could manifest the interview with the montage alone. At one point, I can ensure the authenticity of information as well as the consistency “docu-fiction” tone in my film.