Biennale of Sydney

Tiffany Chung

Tiffany Chung, water dreamscape – the gangster named Jacky, the sleepers, and the exodus, 2017

Tiffany Chung, water dreamscape – the gangster named Jacky, the sleepers, and the exodus, 2017

Tiffany Chung

Born 1969 in Da Nang, Vietnam
Lives and works in Houston, USA and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


Working across a range of disciplines including drawing, photography, video and installation, Tiffany Chung explores global issues of forced migration and displacement that arise from conflict, the processes of modernisation and industrialisation, and natural disasters. Noted for her cartographic practice, Chung analyses carefully researched data from a multitude of sources including archival records, academic studies, ethnographic fieldwork and first-hand testimonies. Layering the individual stories and statistics over charts identifying countries and nations, Chung delineates the growth and decline of populations in different locations and unpacks the impact of geopolitics and top-down policy on different populations, creating interventions into the spatial and political narratives produced through statecraft.

Chung’s ongoing study of forced migration has its foundation in her personal history – she migrated to the United States with her family during the mass exodus of refugees fleeing Vietnam after the war. Expanding upon this experience, Chung examines geographical and socio-political shifts that occur in places around the world that have been subject to the trauma of conflict or environmental and human destruction.

At Artspace Chung presents a selection of works from her ‘Vietnam Exodus Project’. A large-scale embroidered textile, reconstructing an exodus history: boat trajectories, ports of first asylum and resettlement countries, 2017, features a map of the world that uses different colours to track the escape routes and migration trajectories of refugees from Vietnam between 1975–96. Alongside the textile, Chung exhibits a series of seven-segment watercolour paintings, water dreamscape – the gangster named Jacky, the sleepers, and the exodus, 2017. The paintings feature scenes of layered archival photographs from this time of upheaval with those from her fieldwork, examining the current state of former Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong and sites of the erased detention centres that housed them. The paintings were created in collaboration with young Vietnamese artists in an effort to raise historical awareness among the younger generation, many of whom were unaware of the extent of turmoil due to the official erasure of this history in Vietnam. 

The artworks are accompanied by found videos and reproduced archival documents as ‘material witness’ of the postwar Vietnamese refugee crisis. This project is a representation of the continuing political censorship and obliteration of history that has resulted in what Chung terms ‘politically driven historical amnesia’ in Vietnam.



Presentation at the 21st Biennale of Sydney was made possible with generous assistance from Glen and Sakie Fukushima; and Yoshiko Mori

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