my broken tongue
from one to another
your heart on my skin
in the arms of a river
I wish you knew me by my name
"Văn Lang: reparations to the land of the tattooed" is a performance that offers reparations towards Văn Lang (the land of the tattooed). The first iteration was situated during the Non Native Native Fair, instead of selling an object or service, I offered people to pay reparations. With each contribution made, one letter of tattooing is contributed towards the performance that would ultimately spell out Văn Lang. The performance remains unfinished
"a Myriad of Origins" traces the history of Văn Lang. its origins were mainly attributed to the people who worked in the water who tattooed their entire body to resemble the scales & eyes of water monsters as a wish to assume its form & in order to be safe while at sea. while uncovering this history of its erasure, I couldn’t help but find a similar experience within queerness – from being villainized to the hidden parts of my identities. a body so familiar. a body to be reclaimed. so, I am marked as a monster. a way of reimagining ancestral legacy. a way of sacred protection.
First Shown at Through the Window. Contact for viewing.
Looking into notions of tattooing traditions, a significant part of tattooing is one as a communal process. During the tattooing, I am humming a melody that is based on frequencies that are known to be healing. The melody will be repeated throughout the ritual. The audience is asked, if willing & able to, to hum along & amplify the frequencies.
Trans*formation Tutorials, Other Futures Festival
photograph by Ju an Hsieh
“the land of the tattooed” is a semi-fictional state that borrows its name from the ancient state of Vietnam: Văn Lang, which roughly translates to the land of the tattooed. As the name suggests, everybody was covered in tattoos from head to toe. Its origins were mainly attributed to the people who worked in the water, whom tattooed their entire body to resemble the scales and eyes of water monsters in order to be safe while at sea and as a wish to assume its form. “The land of the tattooed” investigates the revival, reimagination and re-inscription of traditional tattooing from the position of diaspora as a performance, social and decolonial art practice. I am departing from a notion of tattoo, which etymology is derived Polynesian languages, that is non-static & manifests itself in multitudes of storytelling through tapestries, dancing, singing & more. By arriving at mythologies, folklore & oral histories, I situate & adapt these traditions in a contemporary context in an attempt to re-suture narratives
Questioning the historical use of tattoos as a tool to conceive a dichotomy between West & non-West, the civilized & the savage, & its categorization as ornament, these patterns critically engage with the notion of states & nations & the historical use of tattoos as means of classification.
Stories derived from folklore, mythologies, historical narratives are adapted into a situated & contemporary context, creating mythopoeia told through a seemingly coded language, continuously evolving depending on the story at hand.