Nguyễn Thị Thanh Mai

‘Art is a tool for me to observe and investigate myself. Thanks to the encounters … [with] migrants, war veterans, farmers as well as other people who I have met along the way, I have been given scattered, ambiguous fragments to visualize, imagine, connect with and pose questions about history and society around me.’


Nguyễn Thị Thanh Mai (b. 1983, Hue) works with materials and memories that prompt sensorial and empathic responses. Whether it be black thorns encased in ice; medical gynecological instruments studded in sharp fake diamonds encased in glass boxes; or ghostly silhouettes of Vietnamese migrants photographed in a rickety boat in Cambodia – in Mai’s work the human body is with physical and psychological significance. Working across drawing, sculpture, photography, performance, installation and video, her art reflects the experiences of various marginalized communities – the war widow, the migrant labourer, the refugee, the transexual and more – questioning the social assumptions that impact their lives. Thanh Mai possesses an MA Visual Arts from Mahasarakham University, Thailand; teaches at Hue College of Art, Hue University; and is co-founder of ‘No Cai Bum’, an artist-initiated, artist-run art festival in Hue. Thanh Mai currently lives and works in Hue.


Check out the interview with the artist on the Vietcetera website