Once called “La perle de l’empire,” Indochina was understood as one of France’s benevolent and civilising enterprises. Within the context of colonial expansion, photography played a substantial yet overlooked role in defining vernacular forms of modernity for the indigènes. In this lecture, Jacqueline Hong Nguyén will focus on the international mobility of Vietnamese photographers during the first quarter of the 20th century and the role photography played in anti-colonial struggles. By mapping a network of Vietnamese photographers, Visual Empire investigates the translation of photographic technology, the dissemination of photographic equipment and, through the technological lens, the restoration of a modern Vietnamese subject.

Jacqueline Hong Nguyén is a visual artist who uses archives and a broad range of media to investigate issues of historicity, collectivity, utopian politics and multiculturalism via feminist theories. She is a PhD candidate in Art, Technology and Design at Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design and KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Nguyén completed the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program in 2011, an MFA and post-graduate diploma in Critical Studies from the Malmö Art Academy in 2005, and a BFA from Concordia University in 2003. Her work has been shown internationally, such as at the Boras Art Biennial (2021); Trinity Square Video, Toronto (2019); and Sharjah Art Foundation (2018).

Zoe Butt is a curator and writer whose practice centres on building critically thinking and historically conscious artistic communities and fostering dialogue among cultures of the Global South. She was Artistic Director, Factory Contemporary Arts Centre, Ho Chi Minh City (2017-2021); Executive Director and Curator, Sän Art, Ho Chi Minh City (2009-2016); Director, International Programs, Long March Project, Beijing (2007-2009); and Assistant Curator, Contemporary Asian Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane (2001-2007). She has been published widely and is a MoMA International Curatorial Fellow; a member of the Asia Society’s Asia 21 initiative; and member of the Asian Art Council, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. She is currently a PhD candidate with CREAM, University of Westminster, London.

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