Untitled, Flower By…

Digital Photograph
70 x 93 cm

Funny, punning and intricate are the adjectives that one can think of Hoang Duong Cam’s Fat-free Museum (2006) photograph series. Even its name implies a puzzle, when the artist assigned the word ‘fat-free’, which refers to dairy products, to ‘museum’ – the academic and solemn shrine storing essence of human culture. Hoang Duong Cam piled multiple layers of images onto the original photographs, capturing landscapes or iconic Western art pieces at Metropolitan Museum in New York. Randomly integrated image layers are the artist’s fingers or face, and classic Vietnamese artworks. The contrasts between blur – clarity, or close-up – wide view of the image, the degree of recognition of international – local classics, are affiliating relationships on the surface of the work. Specifically, in Untitled, Flower by…, local viewers may recognize the classic ‘Girl and lilies’ by To Ngoc Van, yet appearing small in a tiny hand, and her face was replaced by the slanting portraiture of Hoang Duong Cam. The whole composition rests on the background which photographs Lucian Freud’s ‘Naked man. Back view’. Perhaps, when removing the thick layer of ‘fatty’ academism, market and cultural misunderstandings, each viewer will be able to comprehend the connection and breakage between oneself and the art world.