Wherever new wave was playing was a safe space. They knew they could congregate with other young Vietnamese, and momentarily escape pressures from home, their past trauma, and just be whatever version of themselves they wanted to be.
My hopes and questions for AJAR are not separate from my hopes and questions for the Vietnamese language in its survival from all violences of the past [I am pessimistic and not exaggerated] and in its encounters with the other’s languages.
My materials are documents which feature members of my family—I don’t have sole claim to the material, and yet I work with it, manipulate the footage, the memories for my own purposes. I want mostly to mine my past, but in so doing, my family gets included along the way.
Through it all, there was intergenerational healing and we cried behind and in front of the scenes. That’s the power of art: it can transform traumas into a story that allows so many others to be seen and validated.
diaCRITICS is a blog that showcases voices and stories from writers, artists and culture-makers of the Vietnamese and Southeast Asian diaspora on and from all shores. We publish poetry, fiction, essays, reviews, visual art, and more. Our founding editor and publisher is Viet Thanh Nguyen. diaCRITICS is a project of the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network (DVAN).