16 Nov-7 Dec – Art Vietnam – Kristine McCarroll

Art Vietnam Gallery
7 Nguyen Khac Nhu, Hanoi

Opening – 16 Nov, 6 pm


La Lecon de Lecture (The Reading Class)
Oil and Mixed Technique on Digital Print
120cm x 170cm

Kristine McCarroll

The Good Ole Times in the Colonies

Postcards distil the exoticism of a foreign land through one well-chosen image. The postcards coming out of Vietnam during the French occupation highlighted the cultural unfamiliarity of the Vietnamese people through photographs depicting colonial self-perceptions of superiority. When sorting through these images one encounters pictures of Vietnamese women taking a break from their duties as human “horse and carriages” alongside photos of French officers going for a leisurely stroll down the boulevard. In her latest body of work, Kristine McCarroll hand selected a number of these postcards to manipulate with digital reproduction, text, oil based glazes, and found objects. McCarroll uses Renaissance glazing techniques by which pigments suspended in oil mediums lend a transparency and luminosity to each work. Colors hover over the enlarged antique postcards embodying the temporal and moral distances negotiated within her work.

Kristine first came to Vietnam in 1995 in an attempt to situate her own French national identity in a global world. While falling in love with both the people and the landscapes of Vietnam she became aware of how quickly the past was disappearing beneath the sudden rush towards development. She wanted to investigate the remnants of the French presence in Vietnam, a gesture that would surely lose its significance if not acted upon in a timely manner. Thus, the seed for “The Good Ole Times in the Colonies” was planted. In producing this body of work, McCarroll pays tribute to Vietnam, describing the exhibition as “her gift to the Vietnamese people.” When working on the series, McCarroll imagined she was a young, single, French officer sending news of the colonies back to friends and family in the motherland. By looking at these images through a lens not her own McCarroll illustrates the importance of stepping outside of one’s limited viewpoint. Her work argues that a fusion of perspectives is vital to understanding the location of the individual within an ever-shrinking global world.

At its center, “The Good Ole Times in the Colonies” is intense without being oppressively serious. The work is decidedly playful in the range of responses it aims at producing. Many of the pieces are overwritten with text, reproducing the traditional practice of writing one’s correspondences on the front of the postcard. These textual additions – a mixture of excerpts from the original postcards and invented comments by McCarroll’s persona – are both horrific and absurd in their ability to nonchalantly degrade the Vietnamese people. That Kristine’s work can draw a smile from the viewer is simultaneously condemning and liberating. Taken as a whole, the exhibition explodes the boundaries of political correctness, and in doing so creates a space for open dialogue Kristine McCarroll’s work literally and figuratively denies categorization. It is digital and classical, political and personal, both public and private, at times it even makes gestures towards the commercial. “The Good Ole Times in the Colonies” critiques colonization from within, employing and distorting the very images that served the French propagation of power. In an artistic act that investigates our present relation to historical images of colonization, McCarroll illustrates how honesty, humor, and compassion can mark the true passage of time.


Aux Armes Citoyens! (Grab Your Weapon!)
Oil and Mixed Technique on Digital Print
170cm x 120cm

Art Vietnam Gallery
7 Nguyen Khac Nhu, Hanoi
10 am – 6 pm, closed Sundays
Tel: 84 4 927 2349
Fax: 84 4 927 2804

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