Nguyễn Trinh Thi: Letters from Panduranga

June 14 - 30, 2022

This exhibition is presented as part of Tending Land, a program marking the 40th anniversary of the Digital Arts Resource Centre (DARC), and bringing together several artists from around the world, whose works relate narratives about the ways in which land may be perceived, connected with, and cared for. The program honours the fact that questions concerning land and sovereignty are of particular significance in Canada, where traditional territories have been expropriated by the settler-colonial state, and historic treaties around Indigenous Peoples’ land rights were often reneged upon. The exhibition also draws links to the centrality of land in the struggles of many communities around the world, especially the global majority who have experienced colonialism in various guises, and who continue to endure its troubling aftermath today.

Letters from Panduranga* is a portrait of Ninh Thuan (formerly known as Panduranga), the spiritual centre of the Cham Indigenous people, where the Vietnamese government plans to erect two nuclear power plants. In this work, Nguyễn Trinh Thi raises questions about the right to a land continuously inhabited by a community for hundreds of years, against a backdrop of tight national control, with the state inscribing the terrain through its power, built form, and extractive industries. Taking the guise of an essay film, orchestrated as an exchange of letters between a man and a woman, the work tells a complex story through a chorus of diverse voices, especially those of the inhabitants of this region. It combines ethnography, fieldwork, and archival traces, with intimate images of people and landscape, along with the artist’s own personal reflections, offering a layered depiction of a threatened culture. The melancholic undertones of the work address the reality of a place that has survived multiple forms of colonisation, but which continues to suffer under policies that disregard its wellbeing and future; embedded throughout the work are also a series of ruptures that speak to the challenges of representing an anguished and changing relationship with an ancient landscape.

Tending Land is curated by Amin Alsaden.

Nguyễn Trinh Thi is a Hanoi-based experimental filmmaker and moving image/ media artist whose practice currently explores the power of sound and listening, and the multiple relations between image, sound, and space, with ongoing interests in memory, representation, landscape, indigeneity, and ecology. Her works have been shown at Minneapolis Institute of Art (2019), 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane (2018); 21st Biennale of Sydney (2018); International Film Festival Rotterdam (2016); Jeu de Paume, Paris (2015); CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux (2015); 13th Lyon Contemporary Art Biennale (2015); 5th Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale (2014); and 4th Singapore Biennale (2013). Nguyễn is also founder and director of Hanoi DOCLAB, an independent centre for documentary film and the moving image art in Hanoi since 2009. In 2022, she will participate in Documenta fifteen in Kassel, Germany.

* Nguyễn Trinh Thi, Letters from Panduranga, 2015. Video, color, sound, 35:00 mins. Vietnamese with English subtitles.

Film by: Nguyễn Trinh Thi

Principle Cinematography: Jamie Maxtone-Graham

Co-Production: Jeu de Paume, Paris, Fondation Nationale des Arts Graphiques et Plastiques, CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux

About DARC Project Space

DARC Project Space is a venue powered by the Digital Arts Resource Centre (DARC), located in Ottawa, Canada. The space is uniquely configured to present installations, screenings, and performances by contemporary artists working within the field of media art and the moving image. The opening of DARC Project Space in January 2018 was part of a major expansion project for DARC, and represents a significant addition to its long history of nurturing and championing experimental practices.

Opening Hours*

Monday to Friday

Closed Saturdays & Sundays


Tuesdays & Wednesdays  10-5pm
Thursdays & Fridays  10-8pm
Saturdays & Sundays  10-5pm
Mondays  Closed

* Please note masks are mandatory. Physical distancing is in place. Contact tracing available.