This iteration of Carnegie Museum of Art’s online exhibition series features Tyrant Star, a 16-minute video work by artist Diane Severin Nguyen (American, b. 1990). It marks the first time that the work, a new acquisition, will be exhibited at Carnegie Museum of Art.
Filmed entirely in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Tyrant Star prompts viewers to consider how cultural touchstones like songs and shared histories are fragmented and woven together in new ways over time. The work unfolds in three chapters, beginning with a view of the metropolis set to Ca Dao, or Vietnamese folk poems, before shifting to an aspiring YouTube star performing a cover of “The Sound of Silence” and concluding with footage of children at a Ho Chi Minh City orphanage. Although each chapter focuses on different voices and perspectives, they are linked by messages of grief and care that remain unheard or misunderstood and by reminders of pain, isolation, and trauma. Nguyen’s camera captures trash-strewn landscapes, quiet interiors, and fragmented bodies, highlighting subtle movements that suggest our surroundings are alive, swelling with the memories of the past.
Diane Severin Nguyen: Tyrant Star is organized by Hannah Turpin, curatorial assistant for modern and contemporary art and photography.
About the Artist
Diane Severin Nguyen is an artist who uses photography and time-based media to transform natural and inanimate objects into something uncanny. She currently lives and works between Los Angeles and New York. Nguyen earned an MFA from Bard College in 2020 and a BA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2013. Her work will be included in the forthcoming exhibition Made in L.A. 2020: a version at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. She has had solo exhibitions at Bad Reputation, Los Angeles (2019) and Empty Gallery, Hong Kong (2019). Tyrant Star has been screened at Yebisu Festival, Tokyo (2020); IFFR Rotterdam, Netherlands (2020); and the 57th New York Film Festival, New York (2019).