Trong Gia Nguyen – The Last State

Richard Koh Projects (RKProjects) is pleased to announce The Last State, a solo exhibition by Trong Gia Nguyen at Richard Koh Projects, Unit A, 3rd Floor, N22 Art Warehouse, 2198/10-11 Narathiwas Road Soi 22, Chong Nonsi, Yannawa, 109210 Bangkok, Thailand from 1 – 20 December 2018. The opening reception will be held on 1 December 2018 (Saturday), from 5 – 8pm.

Trong Gia Nguyen’s first solo exhibition in Bangkok will feature a single installation titled Neo-Theo, a powerful work that was originally exhibited on Governor’s Island, New York as part of the seminal exhibition The Sixth Borough (2012). More relevant than ever, Neo-Theo looks at the precarious intersection of religion, nationalism, and selective amnesia. Layering histories and visual cues, the patriotic symbolism within the piece has acquired new meaning in the current political climate.

The first component of Neo-Theo is a “possessed” American flag, painted in grayscale and laying “in state” on a dais in the center of the room, with the words “HELP ME” creased into the fabric. With a nod to the horror film “The Exorcist”, the overlaid text hints at the constitutional First Amendment’s plea for separation of church and state.

Everyday in America, schoolchildren in primary and secondary school recite this pledge before classes. They stand up, face the flag, and place one hand over their heart, reciting the words: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

On all four walls, Nguyen’s flag is surrounded by numerous photographs of gesturing hands that hark back to both fascism and the original salutation for the “Pledge of Allegiance,” as written and prescribed by Francis Bellamy in 1892. The hand images are directed at the flag, in compliance and “conversation” with it. The original hand placement was not covering the heart, but rather the familiar fascist salute of one arm extended outward and upward, with palm open.  That salute was changed in 1942, during WWII, when its likeness to the throngs of Germans hailing their Fuhrer were only too obvious.

The third part of Neo-Theo is a looping, eerie soundtrack of children reciting Bellamy’s original words, which did not include “under God”, added only in 1954 as a Cold War response. In our golden age of ill-informed citizens, fake news and fake religious piety, Neo-Theo recalls that it is not religion’s responsibility to breed tolerance or protect an individual’s liberties, but the law’s duty. The altered flag, even in this “theologically possessed” and “desecrated” state, but fully reversible, challenges the hypocritical conscience of the idiot-patriot state.

  Trong Gia Nguyen – The Last State

Trong Gia Nguyen – The Last State

1 - 20 December 2018

Richard Koh Projects,
Unit A, 3rd Floor,
N22 Art Warehouse,
2198/10-11 Narathiwas Road Soi 22,
Chong Nonsi, Yannawa,
109210 Bangkok, Thailand

Tues - Sat, 10am - 7pm