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Pazifik - Leipzig
Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai

The work of Vietnamese artist Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai (born 1983 in Ha Tay / Hanoi, lives and works in Hue, Vietnam) explores cultural and sexual identity and addresses issues of origin, belonging and migration.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai portrait© Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai

In Hue most people still live in a traditional way. Women have to fit in the traditional housewife stereotype of being obedient, soft-spoken, gentle, and faithful. Sexuality is a taboo subject in this society. At school and at home, there is very limited sex education, which means that girls especially are left to discover their own body alone. All that social pressure creates in many women an irrational sense of fear and discomfort towards our body. Many women of my generation share the same sentiments. It is still a challenge for us to speak openly about our fears and desires. Thanh Mai’s works, particularly her many installations that make use of a variety of media, show a consistent concern with the taboo issues of sexuality and femininity and with the relationship between body, memory and violence. Recently, she had also turned her attention to other, broader concerns, including migration and national identity. Yet the notion of struggle and an attention to the difficult and oppressed feelings remains central to her practice.

Black landscape© Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai