"heyseeds: Lao Noi Kien (Ancient citizen)"
Nhan Duc Nguyen, "heyseeds: Lao Noi Kien (Ancient citizen)," 2005, multimedia altar installation. Glenbow Museum.
NHAN DUC NGUYEN, Lao Oi, Lao A... (O Ancient One...)
Open Space Gallery, Victoria
October 17 to November 8, 2008
By Brian Grison
With the assistance of the people of Victoria, Nhan Duc Nguyen has been constructing a shrine to the ancient spirit guide Lao Noi Kieu, who influences matters of citizenship and nationhood. The project, Lao Oi, Lao A…, is inspired by Nguyen’s own childhood experiences in Vietnam, where shrines designed by ordinary people and organizations petitioned for resolution and harmony in the health and welfare of the community. The artist has requested contributions of public material — such as flyers, announcements, pamphlets, curios, newspaper and magazine articles that focus on the social and political life of Victoria. They will be integrated into the shrine and displayed alongside previous petitions to Lao Noi Kieu assembled by Nguyen. The construction of the shrine will be the final stage in a process of research, including personal interviews, public discussions and a residency at Open Space Gallery that began in the fall of 2007. For this last component, Nguyen would like the people of Victoria, including artists, First Nations, community leaders, visitors to Open Space and the general public, to contribute to the creation of a special petition to Lao Noi Kieu that will focus on a definition of “nation/citizenship,” with special emphasis on their city.