On view at the Asia Society Texas Center through July 3, Making Home is an intimate and sobering look at the nuance of immigration. The exhibition explores ancestry, displacement and isolation in four parts.
The exhibition opens with a four-channel film by Vietnamese filmmaker and artist Tuan Andrew Nguyen. In nearly 29 minutes and cycling through four 15-foot-wide suspended projector screens, The Specter of Ancestors Becoming (2019) focuses on Senegalese soldiers who fought in Indochina to defend French colonial rule in Vietnam. Captured in collaboration with four Senagalese-Vietnamese families in Dakar, the film is an immersive and poetic look at memories of migration, cultural assimilation and colonial war legacy.
The show continues with Phung Huynh, who illustrates her personal immigration story as a Vietnamese refugee turned California resident through four different bodies of work. The most striking are three charcoal drawings based on I.D photographs taken of her infant self and her parents, and a series of snow globes that subvert the typical American tourist trinket by injecting memories from her family’s archive.
In the third gallery, keeping with her signature engagement with thread, Beili Liu’s installation and performance piece, Each and Every/Houston (2022), looks at the effects of displacement on children. Neatly arranged throughout the gallery floor are articles of child-size clothing — hats, socks, dresses and shirts — all covered in cement with countless strings of thread suspended above. This timely and relevant artwork reckons with the trauma and urgency of the child migrant crisis of today. Lui will activate the installation during a performance in the gallery on June 18.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya closes the show with Very Asian Feelings, a mural scale installation that reflects and celebrates the Asian American experience. The gallery was painted in a bold turmeric color, where a series of sculptures and a textile painting hang adjacent to a floor-to-ceiling-size mural of a family. Food packaging, household objects, a graduation cap, pointe shoes and more relics fill the gallery as symbols of nostalgia and community.
The exhibition also incorporates the voices of local Houston artists Brandon Tho Harris, Preetika Rajgariah and visitors who responded with poems and statements to individual artworks. A wall full of handwritten notes fills the main gallery’s exit as viewers share their accounts of ancestry and movement.
Making Home dives successfully into the interpersonal impacts of immigration on an individual and collective scale through the lens of four distinct artistic voices.