Beginning this Thursday, July 8, Galerie Quynh will present The Complex of the Glass Frog – an exhibition of new work by Sandrine Llouquet. Llouquet’s third solo exhibition at the gallery will feature ambitious installation-based work derived from her drawing practice. The large-scale works are inspired by the more formal elements of line and color that define her minimal drawings of curiously winsome and violent subjects.

For this exhibition, Llouquet eschews her usual paper support and takes her drawings into three dimensions. Klee described drawing as taking a line for a walk; Llouquet’s lines become active subjects following an intuitive journey that twists, winds and entangles.

Of Vietnamese descent, Sandrine Llouquet was born in 1975 in Montpellier, France. She graduated from École Pilote Internationale d’Art et de Recherche – Villa Arson following a years’ study at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Fine Art. She has spent the last five years living and working in Ho Chi Minh City. An active contributor to the development of the art scene in Vietnam, she is co-founder of Wonderful District, a project that promotes contemporary art through exhibitions, concerts and theater pieces, as well as a member of Mogas Station, a Vietnam-based artist collective. Llouquet’s work has been exhibited in numerous venues including the Palais de Tokyo, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and most recently at the Tate Modern (presented by San Art in No Soul for Sale). She has also participated in a number of biennales with Mogas Station such as the Shenzhen Biennale (2007), the Singapore Biennale (2006) and in Migration Addicts – a collateral event of the 52nd Venice Biennale.

Opening reception: Thursday, July 8 from 6 – 8pm

Exhibition dates: July 9 – August 21, 2010

Location: Galerie Quynh, 65 De Tham Street, District 1, HCMC, Vietnam

Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday: 10am – 6pm, Closed on Sundays and Mondays

Contact information: Thu Vu (English); Huynh Kim Yen (Vietnamese), info@galeriequynh.com, +84 (8) 3836 8019

This month, AsiaLIFE examines the lives of eight expatriates from around the globe in our first People Issue. Hailing from Ghana, Israel, France, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, Australia, South Korea and the United States, these individuals have made Vietnam home for many different reasons, but they all live a life less ordinary. Taken together, their stories reveal something more about modern-day Vietnam and the opportunities it holds for the enterprising and adventurous.

Also this month: Hiphop legend DJ Premier in the Q&A seat. Dave Lemke brings us on a photographic tour of the streets of Havana. Beth Young wonders whether Bui Vien is growing up in Street Smart. Jeremy Kressmann immerses himself in Myanmar’s colonial past. Jade Bilowol travels to a Central Highlands village where women rule the roost. Alexandra Karina gives us the skinny on the sticky Vietnamese staple xoi. Krista Lambie learns how individuals afflicted with leprosy overcome stigma in Vietnam. Thomas Maresca heads to Mui Ne to attend a triathlon rooted in environmental and social responsibility. Brett Davis profiles a new social networking site that’s uniting the Vietnamese diaspora in the digital domain. And Jade Bilowol visits perhaps the coolest office in Saigon (and revs up a Segway).

Update: This exhibit has been extended through May 1.

If you haven’t yet stopped by Galerie Quynh to see the current exhibit, Static Motion, you’ve got one more week to do so before the show closes.

And you certainly should. The pairing of these almost monochromatic series might seem like an odd choice, but once you step into the space, even before you engage with the individual pieces, the title of the exhibit makes immediate sense. By showing George Papadimas’ geometric sculptures and Nguyen  Thanh Truc’s collage-esque paintings together, gallery owner Quynh Pham has created a space the seems alive with an electronic buzz. At a certain depth of field, Nguyen’s paintings, anchored by Papadimas’ sculptures, seem to have the blizzard-like entropy of dropped broadcast flickering on your television screen:

Individually, the artists’ works capture the relationship between stasis and movement, as well.

There is something irresistible about Papadimas’ sculpture. You can’t help but walk circles around them, attempting to divine meaning in their vertices, watching as they seem to morph as you move. Papadimas often employs algorithms in his construction, and here he focuses on “the oppositional nature of the numbers 0-9.”  In the exhibit literature, Pham writes that the sculptures “allude to an order that goes beyond societal and cultural appropriations.” Perhaps that’s why you feel like you could obsess over the objects for hours; they seem to reflect something essential and unknowable, the tantalizing gap between the potential of mathematics to reveal mysteries of the natural order and our ability to actually conceptualize the answers.

If Papadimas’ sculptures exist askew of society, Nguyen Thanh Truc’s paintings provide a sort of visual expression of its ability to consume us and our attempts to impose order on the flood of information that assails us today. Nguyen adheres strips of newspapers and magazines to canvas, clips of the information stream that shape our reality. Visualized this way, one of our meaning making systems–the media–seems almost like an assault on our senses. As a magazine writer and rabid consumer of media, I find Nguyen’s work extremely potent. It has the ability to simultaneously express the sense of duty news consumers feel to utilize all of the information available via print, broadcast and Internet, the futility of that project and the guilt associated with the project’s failure. I cannot speak to the engagement with Vietnamese society, politics and culture expressed in the headlines, but I think Nguyen’s paintings transcend Vietnam in some ways.

The show runs through Saturday, April 24. Head down to Galerie Quynh at 65 De Tham in District 1. Open Tuesday through Saturday 10am to 6pm.

Contributed by Tom DiChristopher

Update from Smile Group

April 14, 2010

Our friends over at Smile Group, who we’ve worked with on a few of stories dealing with poverty and HIV in Vietnam, sent us another update on what they’ve been up to. In addition to moving two HIV-affected families into better homes in the past two weeks, they’ve also had time for education, awareness and some good old fun.

The first Sunday of each month, Smile Group meets in the park. Above, Tran takes her anti-retroviral medicine with considerably less complaining than usual–so she can get it over with and on to the games.

“We’re getting much more sophisticated with our sports teams. Colored jerseys for each team.” — Leslie Wiener.

Back to the office for lunch and a workshop on healthy food and taking medications correctly with pediatrician and AIDS specialist Dr. Thinh. Dr. Thinh also does a few on-the-spot consultations.

English class for the younger kids taught by Kim, Smile Group’s intern from the United States.

This past Smile Sunday, Smile Group also welcomed a new face: Thanh. Thanh was born with AIDS and is living in a very unhealthy, unstable environment. Before his first day with Smile Group, Thanh had never held a pen or pencil in his hand. Here, it looks like he’s got lots of helping hands.

If you’re interested in getting involved with Smile Group or making a donation, check out their website.

Contributed by Tom DiChristopher

photo by Fred Wissink, AsiaLIFE

Word is starting to spread about the sensational nature of reportage that has surrounded the potential discovery of Sean Flynn’s remains since we first wrote about the fuzzy journalism on this blog. Writing for Salem-News.com, Tim King has also called into question initial reports on the excavation that led to the discovery, which was carried out by the now notorious Dave Macmillan.

In the article, King, the executive editor of Salem-News.com, says Macmillan may not deserve that notoriety. He covers some of the aspects that initial reports left out, including the following: “Investigator Dave MacMillan, told Salem-News.com that his team acted with the consent of the Cambodian military, local police, local community leaders and landowners, and with the full knowledge of JPAC, (Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command) in Hawaii.”

He quotes Macmillan as saying, “We are not amateur bone hunters, we volunteered to help Rory [Flynn] on her mission and worked as her field agents and did not receive payment for what we have done and are still doing, both Mr.Scott Brantley who is a registered private investigator from Nashville Tennessee and myself have combined 35 years of investigation experience between us.”

King was also contacted by Mike Luehring, a representative for the Flynn family, who confirmed Macmillan’s statements and referred to early press coverage of the event as “crazy.”

In an earlier article written by King, the writer includes Macmillan’s 8-point response to implications and accusations made by Sopheang Cheng, who wrote the widely circulated AP article, and Tim Page, the famed war photographer who has also been searching for Sean Flynn, his personal friend, for years. Among Macmillan’s more scathing rebuttals is the following:

“The article neglects to mention that Tim Page had in fact worked closely with me for at least a year on a recent search for Sean Flynn and had publicly stated his intention to publish a book about the project—which would have been his second book about his search for Sean Flynn. He had also been in discussion to make a documentary film about his search, which also would have been his second. His public claims pertaining to our crew being freelance bone hunters and that we desecrated a mass grave is so he can hold onto a production deal for a major documentary he is due to start shooting in Cambodia with Wall to Wall.”

Page has publicly criticized the means by which Macmillan and his acquaintance Keith Rotheram carried out the excavation, saying that their use of an excavator could have potentially disrupted nearby mass graves.

Macmillan responds directly to this criticism:

“Our use of the excavator has been misrepresented. Page’s claim that we potentially harmed a mass grave is inaccurate. The area we dug was a single gravesite. We used the excavator because we knew the grave was deeper than usual, due to the body being weighted down with rocks. All we had to do was carefully skim the soil and feel for rocks, at which point we stopped the machine and I did the rest by hand.”

The remains are currently being DNA tested at a JPAC facility in Hawaii. It is not known when the results will be in, but in the meantime, the events that led to the discovery and the aftermath are adding up to a story in itself.

Contributed by Tom DiChristopher

Jeff Holt/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The international media seems to be cadging on to the minutiae of everyday life in Vietnam. Michael Sullivan recently contributed this piece to NPR that chronicles Vietnam’s epidemic of motorbike text messaging, a major contributor to the country’s abysmal traffic safety record. (According to the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation, traffic accidents are the leading cause of child and adolescent deaths–approximately six children a day died in accidents in 2007.)

Our favorite part is the bit in which Sullivan quotes Pham Thi Thuy Linh, a 21-year-old student who was named fastest text messager in a contest sponsored by a mobile phone company: “I think I’m about 20 or 30 percent slower texting on my bike. And it’s easier to make mistakes because I’m trying to watch the road in front of me.”

Yikes.

Contributed by Tom DiChristopher

We’ve already reported on what appears to be biased coverage by the Associated Press of the recent Sean Flynn discovery (see preceding post), but the matter is now getting out of hand. In an article printed in The Australian, writer Mark Dodd has referred to David Macmillan and Keith Rotheram, the two men who may have discovered the remains of Sean Flynn to the U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh on Friday, as “bounty hunters.”

The first question one should ask is, “Does Mark Dodd, and for that matter any editor at The Australian, know what a bounty hunter is?”

Presumably, if Macmillan and Rotheram were bounty hunters, they would have collected some sort of payment upon turning over the remains to the American embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Friday. This was not the case.

Dodd’s complete ignorance of the facts is illustrated when he writes, “The Australian-born Errol Flynn died in 1959, but [Lili] Damita has funded several searches for their son. It’s not known if she bankrolled the latest search.” First off, Lili Damita died in 1994. Second, had he read the Sunday Mail article that broke the news of Macmillan and Rotheram’s discovery written by AsiaLIFE contributing editor Thomas Maresca and Simon Parry of Red Door News Agency, he would have known that Flynn’s sister Rory, who was quoted in the article, partially funded the excavation.

Further, it should be questioned on what sources Dodd is relying for his own facts. At one point he writes: “David MacMillan, 29, and his bar owner friend, Keith Rotheram 60, found the remains which they claim are Flynn’s earlier this month.” According to Macmillan, who AsiaLIFE is in touch with, neither he nor Rotheram have made any such claim to any news agency or the U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh.

Further he quotes Tim Page, the photographer and friend of Sean Flynn as saying, “I have had hundreds of people contact me over the years about Sean and I’m always interested in what they have to say…” This quote is exceedingly misleading, as Page and Macmillan are personal acquaintances. It was Macmillan who set up Tim Page’s interview with Thomas Maresca for the story The Last Search for Sean Flynn in the March 2009 issue of AsiaLIFE.

Page also claims that Macmillan and Rotheram tried to sell their story. We cannot speak for any subsequent dealings, but Macmillan personally contacted Thomas Maresca and AsiaLIFE with the story and asked for no compensation, nor has he received any. Maresca then traveled to Phnom Penh, where he spoke to Macmillan and Rotheram for the story that broke the news in the Sunday Mail and South China Morning Post. They are, however, well within their rights to grant an exclusive feature to a periodical.

Dodd says that he could not reach Macmillan and Rotheram for comment. Again, it would appear that Page is the only source that reporters are turning to, and thus, his is the only narrative being propagated to potentially hundreds of thousands of readers. Dodd’s amateurish reportage is part of the reason that Macmillan and Rotheram have been advised to wait until the DNA results are in to speak to the press.

However, the result of hair-trigger reportage like Dodd’s is quickly amounting to a smear campaign.

Contributed by Tom DiChristopher