Torino Foto Festival – New Landscapes

Across the Ocean

Hiền Hoàng


Mucho Mas!

Curated by
Silvia Mangosio, Luca Vianello

“My aunt, who was the oldest daughter in my mother’s family, was the first one to come to the GDR as a contract worker. After some time, she started sending letters home. She wrote about how nice life was in Germany and so on. There was hardly any mention of sacrifice and discrimination. Later, when I visited her for the first time in 2014, I was surprised at how difficult her life actually was. Even though I remember she kept telling me to be careful during our communications because calls and messages could have been recorded. I didn’t understand why she was so obsessed with this fear until one day I discovered that, in most cases, communication between the contract workers and German citizens outside of work was strictly forbidden and controlled by both German and Vietnamese authorities. I wonder how much truth there was in the letters she sent home across the ocean, and how much of it became reality in her perception”.

The installation contains parts of the interdisciplinary project Asia Bistro – Made in Rice. The artist uses rice – a typical ingredient of her country of origin and also a symbol for what is ‘Asian’ in the Western part of the world – to address the underlying discrimination of the ‘good immigrant’. Here food becomes a metaphor for stereotypes about Asian cultures – a limitation, a mask.

The piece highlights the issue of immigration policy in Germany and Europe, and how it affects a person and often causes trauma – for a person as well as for a community.