Profiles

Underbellies are beautiful. I am drawn to shadows and reflections because they decenter the dominant subject, the main message, and instead reveal the margins of a substance.
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.
A lot of their words stuck with me, but this thought in particular stayed in my mind: They said they’d always wanted to have this conversation, they just didn’t know how or when to start it. 
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.