Truc Truong: hai con lân việt kiều (Two overseas Vietnamese unicorns)

4A @ WILLIAM STREET

101-111 WILLIAM STREET, DARLINGHURST

SYDNEY, NSW

4 FEBRUARY – 6 MARCH 2021

4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art presents hai con lân việt kiều (Two overseas Vietnamese unicorns), the first solo exhibition of emerging Vietnamese-Australian artist Truc Truong.

hai con lân việt kiều showcases a bespoke refashioning of traditional lion dance ensembles. By reinventing the costume, Truong delves into the tradition of lion dancing and how the cultural ritual has come to reflect the diasporic nature of multicultural Australian identities.

The costumes use panels of Truong’s own clothing, draping out from beneath traditional Vietnamese lion heads. By utilising material assemblage and fabric bleaching to alter the lion dance costume, Truong articulates the nuances and challenges of assimilation, its impacts on her own familial history and the ‘alterations’ faced by Asian-Australian migrants in an era post-colonisation. Typically, lion dancing symbolises the removal of unwanted spirits. Here, Truong depicts how the fighting lions can transform and become microcosms of Asian-Australian generational wisdom.

Accompanying the exhibition is a documentation video of the newly-commissioned contemporary lion dance performance, the love ethic, which was held and documented at Haymarket’s Chinese Garden of Friendship to herald the Lunar New Year. Breaking with tradition, the performance featured a bespoke refashioning of the traditional lion dance costumes hand-made by Truong, which were embodied and activated by Trung Han Qun Martial Arts and Lion Dancing Academy. The performance, which featured the lions awakening, dancing and revealing themselves as they flit between the Garden’s unique architecture, is intended as a celebratory act to rid the world of the misfortune of 2020 and welcome a year of prosperity and happiness. the love ethic marks the first iteration of hai con lân việt kiều in Sydney.

For many, hai con lân việt kiều enacts an unexpected encounter, helping to reignite the Sydney CBD’s vibrancy over the summer festival period. In the past, traditional lion dances have been a common occurrence during Lunar New Year throughout Haymarket. hai con lân việt kiều represents an artistic response to the Lunar New Year tradition and the unprecedented changes that have impacted this annual ritual. The project ensures contemporary performance art reaches new audiences in an accessible and captivating way, heralding a new year and celebrating the dynamism of the local, vibrant Haymarket community.

View the Truc Truong: hai con lân việt kiều (Two overseas Vietnamese unicorns) roomsheet here


Truc Truong (b. 1987, lives and works in Adelaide, Australia) is an artist living and working on Kaurna land (South Australia, Adelaide), exploring variances between Eastern and Western thinking. Working with sculpture and installation, her work points to colonialism, exploring aspects of racism, hybridity and displacement, often through experiences and stories retold by her family. Truong explores the innovative use of materials, processes, and thematic content that examine issues of identity and Whiteness, and the forces of assimilation and cultural adaptation, especially as they impact on the Vietnamese community in Australia.

This project has been supported by Create NSW’s Play the City grant program.

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Exhibition documentation

A Filipina woman in a flowy black dress looks into a gallery with a yellow Chinese lion costume. The lion looks out the window at her.

Truc Truong, hai con lân việt kiều (Two overseas Vietnamese unicorns) (installation view), 2019, traditional lion heads, bleached clothing, aluminium steel frame, paper mache frame, acrylic paint, 4A @ 101-111 William Street, January 2021; photo: Kai Wasikowski for 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, courtesy the artist.

Two Chinese lion dance costumes stand in an art gallery, one black and the other yellow. Their bodies are constructed from old scraps of bleached fabric. A Filipina woman in a long black dress looks through the gallery glassfront at them.

Truc Truong, hai con lân việt kiều (Two overseas Vietnamese unicorns) (installation view), 2019, traditional lion heads, bleached clothing, aluminium steel frame, paper mache frame, acrylic paint, 4A @ 101-111 William Street, January 2021; photo: Kai Wasikowski for 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, courtesy the artist.

Two lion dance costumes stand under three navy hanging banners; the left banner is bleached with Chinese characters, the middle with English and the right with Vietnamese. The banner in the centre reads, 'Thanks for the bread but we good.' A black lion costume stands in the centre with scraps of dark fabric streaming down its body.

Front: Truc Truong, hai con lân việt kiều (Two overseas Vietnamese unicorns) (installation view), 2019, traditional lion heads, bleached clothing, aluminium steel frame, paper mache frame, acrylic paint, 4A @ 101-111 William Street, January 2021; photo: Kai Wasikowski for 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, courtesy the artist.
Wall: Truc Truong, bench the french (installation view), 2019, cotton drill, bleach, stockings, Installation view, 4A @ 101-111 William Street, January 2021; photo: Kai Wasikowski for 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, courtesy the artist.

A close-up of a hanging banner bleached with the words, 'Thanks for the bread but we good.'

Truc Truong, bench the french (detail), 2019, cotton drill, bleach, stockings, 4A @ 101-111 William Street, January 2021; photo: Kai Wasikowski for 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, courtesy the artist.

A close-up of a yellow lion dance costume head, decorated with dyed white pompoms, red, black and yellow fluffy trimmings, and painted black accents.

Truc Truong, hai con lân việt kiều (Two overseas Vietnamese unicorns) (detail), 2019, traditional lion heads, bleached clothing, aluminium steel frame, paper mache frame, acrylic paint, 4A @ 101-111 William Street, January 2021; photo: Kai Wasikowski for 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, courtesy the artist.

A yellow lion dance costume looks out a gallery glass window. Its head is decorated with fluffy red trimmings, and its eyebrows and lips are covered in fluffy yellow trimmings. Its body is made from long tie-dyed and bleached scraps of fabric.

Front: Truc Truong, hai con lân việt kiều (Two overseas Vietnamese unicorns) (installation view), 2019, traditional lion heads, bleached clothing, aluminium steel frame, paper mache frame, acrylic paint, 4A @ 101-111 William Street, January 2021; photo: Kai Wasikowski for 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, courtesy the artist.
Wall: Truc Truong, bench the french (installation view), 2019, cotton drill, bleach, stockings, 4A @ 101-111 William Street, January 2021; photo: Kai Wasikowski for 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, courtesy the artist.

A black lion dance costume stands in a gallery space, its head covered in fluffy black trimmings. Its body is covered in long scraps of dark and checkered fabrics.

Truc Truong, hai con lân việt kiều (Two overseas Vietnamese unicorns) (installation view), 2019, traditional lion heads, bleached clothing, aluminium steel frame, paper mache frame, acrylic paint, 4A @ 101-111 William Street, January 2021; photo: Kai Wasikowski for 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, courtesy the artist.