How Far, How Close / Videos by the Sea: Nguyen Trinh Thi

How Far, How Close / Videos by the Sea: Nguyen Trinh Thi

Aranya Art Center

October 24, 2023
How Far, How Close
Videos by the Sea: Nguyen Trinh Thi
October 29, 2023–February 25, 2024
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Aranya Art Center
Aranya Gold Coast Community, Beidaihe New District

T +86 335 782 5290

How Far, How Close
Artists: Cao Shuyi, Juhyun Cho, Heman Chong, Ishu Han, Jiang Zhi, Joeun Kim Aatchim, Woosung Lee, Leung Chi Wo + Sara Wong, Prae Pupityastaporn, Timur Si-Qin, Tang Chao, Pam Virada, Wang Tuo, Rachel Youn, Zhu Yingying. Curators: Leo Li Chen, Mijoo Park.

Aranya Art Center is delighted to present the group exhibition How Far, How Close, which features nearly 50 works by 14 artists and one duo, including newly commissioned works by six artists. Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese Daoist philosopher, divined the concept of “Xiang Qu Ji He” to convey a sense of abstract or ambiguous distance, both in physical and metaphorical terms. It often relates to questions of “how much?” “to what extent?” or “what kind of?” This concept corresponds to the English title How Far, How Close, which evokes a lingering sense of both progress and retreat: something seemingly in the distance, but in fact, is not that different.

The exhibition embodies feelings of displacement and serves as a starting point for exploring questions related to identity, belonging, and the abstract nature of distance. As we are already in a deeply polarized world filled with competition and difficulties, and we experience contradictions at physical and psychological levels, this exhibition explores supposedly irreconcilable differences. How can we transform history and the present? The here and now, there and then? Can we bridge the self and other into common subjective experience? In our precarious present, the act of bridging difference and overcoming barriers becomes the main theme of How Far, How Close. The works of art in this exhibition raise doubts about geographic boundaries and evoke complex emotions, which are not only related to self-identification and mobility, but also affect how we search for direction as we negotiate multiple social situations. 

Through poetic narratives that illustrate how intimacy and detachment can coexist, the works of Leung Chi Wo+Sara Wang, Juhyun Cho, Pam Virada, and Jiang Zhi interrogate diasporic culture, an identity no longer confined to national definitions and imagined borders. Instead, diasporic culture exists as an ambiguity suspended in uncertainty. The works of Ishu Han, Joeun Kim Aatchim, and Woosung Lee depict overlapping layers of identity, woven through family, community, and social belonging. It also challenges fixed identity politics, highlighting a more complex interplay and dynamism.

Continuing throughout the exhibition space, the works of Tang Chao, Wang Tuo, Heman Chong, and Rachel Youn explore the intricacies and subtleties of everyday life, emphasizing individuality and privacy while resisting generalization. Nuanced and sensitive, their works explore intimacy and how it manifests in life at various scales. Lastly, Timur Si-Qin and Cao Shuyi use nature as a metaphor to challenge anthropocentric perspectives, while Zhu Yingying and Prae Pupityastaporn’s paintings trace and retract memories, renegotiating our distance to—and closeness with—nature. The exhibition seeks to re-establish consensus among complex structures and contradictory forces, rejecting simple, linear narratives and denying fixed coordinates.

This exhibition is curated by guest curators Leo Li Chen and Mijoo Park, with the assistance of Gao Liangjiao, curatorial assistant at Aranya Art Center. The exhibition will be on view from October 29, 2023, through February 25, 2024.

This exhibition is supported by Arts Council Korea and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Videos by the Sea: Nguyen Trinh Thi
Aranya Art Center is pleased to present Vietnamese filmmaker and artist Nguyen Trinh Thi’s first solo exhibition in China, which features two video works, Letters From Panduranga (2015) and How to Improve the World (2020–21), the first and the latest of a trilogy on indigenous cultures.

Traversing boundaries between film, documentary, video art, installation, and performance, Nguyen Trinh Thi’s practice currently explores the potential of sound and listening, and the multiple relations between the image, sound, and space with ongoing interests in history, memory, ecology, representation, and the unknown. She uses montage to compose her work, drawing on different image media, from her own audio and visual recordings to found footage and still images from postcards, photography, newsreels, Hollywood films and ethnographic footage.

The second work in the trilogy, Fifth Cinema (2018) will be presented at a specially organized screening and conversation in presence of the artist.

This exhibition is organized by Damien Zhang, director of Aranya Art Center and curatorial assistant Gao Liangjiao. The exhibition will be on view from October 29, 2023, through February 25, 2024.

Media contact: Gao Liangjiao, gaoliangjiao [​at​] / T +86 138 1143 1757.

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Aranya Art Center
October 24, 2023

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