The Gleaners and the Ghillies

The Gleaners and the Ghillies is a series of three photographs.  In this series, I interrogate the Vietnamese inheritance of French colonialism, specifically the Beaux Arts academic tradition and focus on realism.  We take Jean Francois Millet's painting The Gleaners (1857) as a starting point.  In his work, Millet elevates the plight of the poorest classes of people eking out a living on the scraps of the harvest. In an homage to the original reference in painting, the gleaners are replaced by contemporary scavengers in Vietnam who subsist off the recycled by-products of urban development. In the staged photographs I replace the "haystacks" in Millet's painting with young students in customized ghillies.

Ghillies are specialized uniforms for military snipers that allow almost seamless camouflage into surrounding environments and speak to the invisibility of the people who are ubiquitous but remain unacknowledged. In addition to the reconstruction of Millet’s painting, we will create scenes at a construction site (where one might find today's Vietnamese gleaners) and a market.

The Gleaners and the Ghillies has been exhibited in different location, notably in the exhibition, Coffee, Cigarettes and Pad Thai, curated by Eugene Tan and in the 4th Guangzhou Triennale curated by Margaret Zhang. In each of the exhibitions, the work was displayed in different dimensions and materials. The edition is for the 120 x 80 cm unframed photographs (as exhibited in Taiwan) and the larger aluminum mounted photographs as artist prints were displayed in China.

The 4th Guangzhou Trienniale.




4th Guangzhou Triennial, China
Eslite Gallery, Taipei, Taiwan
Photography. C-prints
120 x 80 cm. Edition of 3

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