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Transcript: Tiffany Chung interview

Tiffany Chung: Revealing History

TIFFANY CHUNG: For me, I respect history. I know that it is hard to say what would be the most accurate version of it. My work is a way to counterbalance the grand narrative that’s put forward.

The paintings in the installation at M+ are based on archival photographs of the Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong back in the day. And because my project [involves] working with the young artists in Vietnam to give them access to this history, I asked them to render those photographs into paintings. So a lot of questions came up during our periodic critiques to monitor the progress, and the questions were like:
‘Why do these people look so sad?’
‘What happened?’
‘Who are these people?’
‘Were they our people?’

There are a lot of little nuances and details that we did not know, I did not know about before. So it was a very important process for them to actually know as much as they can about this history.

I have to make sure that this is not a fiction. People don’t see it as a fiction, or as a work of art. It is real. And it was real lived experience. And the history, however painful it is, still needs to be reconstructed; needs to be revealed.

Also to think about how you can use the lessons learned from this history for the current refugees from the Middle East; from Africa. I want to bring this conversation to hopefully a higher level, starting by talking with human-rights lawyers to learn about their work—to learn from them, and also to strategise with them.

Of course I feel the burden of history, and I feel that, why I have to take on this burden? At times, it can get really depressing, but then you just kind of move on. Somebody’s got to deal with it. So I have gone this far. Let’s continue.

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