The pair of photographs contribute to an ongoing series of works called The Jungle Books. The long-term project, borrowing its name from Rudyard Kipling's famous collection of short stories, becomes a conceptual framework for a body of works that speak to life in the Mekong sub-region. Each project is informed by early colonial travelogues and fiction, early anthropology, the natural sciences, popular culture and tabloid trash, current news, local beliefs and mythologies, and politics.
In this photography installation, we find the endangered Giant Mekong Catfish beached ashore as onlookers reconcile with the unexpected arrival of a big problem. In the second photograph, Vietnam's first ever satellite has crashed home, smoldering as neighbors gaze upon a symbol of national ambition from the safety of their homes.
While the series speaks to the fluidity between fact and fiction, the photographs themselves of fictitious composites, composited models with real site photography, all based on real and urgent issues dealing with the country. No attempt is made to be convincing. The artifice is to be celebrated.
This work is in the permanent collection of the Singapore Art Museum and was exhibited with the TransportAsian exhibition.
The Jungle Book - Terrain of the Real Fake
160 x 250 cm per image
Singapore Art Museum
30 May - 11 Aug, 2009