The Factory is pleased to present an exhibition by Võ Trân Châu, one of the very few artists in Vietnam merging methods of weaving, photography and textile. This will be her largest solo show to date, displaying her recent body of work exploring the notion of a ‘heritage’, retrieving and rethinking what defines the legacies of History.
Võ Trân Châu has worked with fabric for many years, a primary material within this exhibition. For the last two years, Châu has been collecting garments that were dumped in unidentified containers scattered around docks in Saigon, particularly Cát Lái dock. Võ Trân Châu recalls feeling puzzled by the excessive production of the fashion industry and its impact on the environment, particularly on developing countries who are the major production houses of the industry. The artist questions the consequences of developing’ at all costs, she said in an informal interview: “Monetary gains have blinded people. Will we be able to see the soul of a city anymore?…What will be left of a city if not its cultural identity?”
For the works featured in this exhibition, Võ Trân Châu recycles these unwanted clothes by transforming them into a number of hanging mosaic ‘paintings’, many of them depicting sites that no longer exist, such as textile factories in Nam Định, Saigon Tax Trade Center, Trà Cổ cathedral, to name but a few. Working with the digital photographs of these sites, Châu turns these photographs into pixel graphs, which she uses as a foundation to recreate mosaics by sewing color-coded fabric squares together. By reconstructing architectural structures and symbols that have completely or partially disappeared from public memory, the artist contemplates how cultural identity is pictured and remembered. This exhibition promises to be a journey of remembering lost things, weaving memories in a craft-based manner – a meticulously gradual process in contrast to the speed of disappearance of historical architecture in the face of urban development.
*Image: Võ Trân Châu, ‘Leaf Picking in the Ancient Forest’, 2018-2019. Courtesy of the artist.