Australian War Memorial Gillespie Bequest

Image: Dacchi Dang, The Boat, 2001, installation view, Gallery 4A, 26 October – 17 November 2001. Courtesy the artist. Photo: 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art.

4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art is delighted to announce its partnership with the Australian War Memorial and its commissioning of Vietnamese-Australian artist Dacchi Dang to create new works that respond to the Vietnamese-Australian perspective on the Vietnam War.

In 2012 a bequest to purchase works of art was left to the Australian War Memorial by the retired Major John Milton Gillespie, a Vietnam veteran and immigration consultant. In recognition of both this significant gift and Mr Gillespie’s life and work, the Memorial decided to use the bequest to commission work that explores the wartime experience of Vietnamese–Australians and its legacy today. As a result, in 2015 the Australian War Memorial engaged 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art to assist in undertaking extensive national research for The Gillespie Bequest. Curators from the Memorial and 4A collaborated to identify contemporary artists living and working in Australia who deal with Vietnamese-Australian narratives.

The Australian War Memorial announced today that it has commissioned Sydney-based artist Dacchi Dang to create new work, a welcome contribution that will help address the gap in the Memorial’s collection as the Vietnamese-Australian perspective on the Vietnam War has been under represented. Dang’s creative process and research-based methods will be the subject of a short documentary produced by 4A.

4A Director Mikala Tai says, “We are delighted to be working with the Australian War Memorial on what is an initiative of historical importance, the commissioning of artworks for this significant national collection that, for the first time, will address Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War from an Australian-Vietnamese perspective. The selection of Dacchi Dang by the Australian War Memorial is especially heartening given Dacchi’s reputation as a preeminent Vietnamese-Australian artist working over the past few decades.”

“We are also proud of Dacchi’s long involvement with 4A, beginning with his role as a founding artist when he was invited by 4A’s founding director, Melissa Chiu, to join the management committee of 4A in its first year of exhibiting in 1997. In addition, Dacchi’s seminal solo exhibition The Boat, presented at 4A in 2001, remains a milestone in the development of the wider public reception and understanding of art from Asian-Australian perspectives, attracting a queue around the block on its final exhibition day, such was the community response to a work that spoke of the perils of seeking asylum while also provoking the audience to project their personal histories into the installation’s abstract narrative. More recently, 4A in partnership with Campbelltown Arts Centre worked with Dacchi over three-years as part of Edge of Elsewhere (2010-2012), a major project that commissioned new works from Dachhi produced with community participation.”

“4A looks forward to working closely with the artist and the Memorial’s curatorial team as we document the creative development and unveiling of Dacchi’s work over the coming year.”

More detail on the Australian War Memorial’s announcement of The Gillepsie Bequest and Dacchi Dang can be viewed here

Dacchi Dang (image courtesy of the artist)

Dacchi Dang was born in Saigon, Vietnam, in 1966 to a Chinese father and Vietnamese mother. At the age of sixteen Dang fled Vietnam with his brother and sister on a fishing boat. After a traumatic sea voyage the boat arrived on Malaysian shores where Dang was transported to the refugee camp of Pulau Bidong. After spending nine months at the camp, Dang was transported to Kuala Lumpur where he was accepted as a Vietnamese refugee by Australia in late 1982.

Dacchi Dang works primarily with photography and printmaking, in various forms and processes, and also installation. His work examines the ‘liminal’ spaces of the Vietnamese-Australian experience, racial diaspora, nature, cultural identity, the refugee experience and self-identity. As a result of his personal experience as a displaced refugee, Dang has a unique understanding of the geographical and social landscapes of both Australia and Vietnam, often creating and reinventing physical and social landscapes by reflecting on his ‘self’ in relation to the location and concept of ‘home’. He did not return to his home country until 1994.

His work has been exhibited in Australia and internationally since the early 1990s. Solo exhibitions include The Land of Golden Shadow (2016), Le Malamot Cultural Centre, France; Full Circle (2009), Metro Arts Gallery, Brisbane; Liminal (2006-2008), Horsham Regional Art Gallery, Victoria; Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne; and 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney; Spectacle I (1996), Firstdraft Gallery, Sydney; Spectacle II, Stills Gallery, Sydney. Group exhibitions include DDESSIN [14] (2014), Paris Contemporary Drawing Fair, Atelier Richelieu; Crossing Boundaries (2014), Sydney Town Hall; Edge of Elsewhere (2010-2012), 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney; Planet Ueno (2008); Taito Community Museum, Tokyo; Re-StArt (2008), 733 Art Factory, Chengdu; and News From Islands (2007), Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney.

Dacchi Dang graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (1991) and a Master of Arts (1996) from the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Sydney; Graduate Diploma in Archives and Records Management (2000) and Graduate Certificate of Applied Science in Cultural Heritage Studies specialising in Photography (2003) from University of Canberra; and a Doctor of Philosophy (Fine Arts) from Queensland College of the Arts, Griffith University, Brisbane. He has undertaken numerous artist in residence programs including at Bundanon Trust, Hill End (2001); Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris (2003) and Tokyo University of the Arts Geidai (2008). His work is held in public and private collections in Australia, France, China and Hong Kong.