Jo Ha Kyu



Nguyen Trinh Thi

In Letters from Panduranga (2016), Thi draws on the region native to the indigenous Cham people. The territory and life of the Cham are threatened by the plans of the Vietnamese government to build the country’s first two nuclear power plants in the spiritual center of their community. The story is told in the form of an epistolary exchange, and, in a manner both poetic and melancholic, operates between distance and closeness. It acknowledges that the current utterance, in the instant of its deferred perception, might already make reference to something in the past.

In the images Thi has compiled for her Landscapes Series #1 (2013), a similar gesture occurs again and again: someone points to an element in the landscape that is not immediately accessible to the viewer. Something seems to have taken place there, or else in the distance, at the edge of the frame or beyond: an event or phenomena, a criminal act or mysterious object, an incident from the past, present, or future. The knowledge of this event seems to remain hidden or encoded, inscribed in the landscape, which acts here as a witness, messenger, or archivist.

After the first few minutes of the film Jo Ha Kyu (11:23 min., 2012), when the image slowly fades in, the soundtrack has already formed an imprint on the consciousness of the viewer. A pleasingly dissonant stream of sound follows the steady and precise framing of the camera, moving through Tokyo shortly after the 2011 earthquake. The images depict situations that stay somehow unfamiliar throughout. The movement conveys an impression of openness and acceptance, rather than one of merely searching.