Howard Henry Chen
Multiple Entry Visa
July 5, 2007 - July 28, 2007
Howard Henry Chen’s series titled Multiple Entry Visa are photographs taken in Vietnam which began while visiting family who stayed after the end of the American War. Chen’s preconceptions of which Vietnamese landscapes should have the most resonance evolved as he realized that those ideas were formed by faulty memories and partial histories.
This tension of trying to imagine (or remember) Vietnam as a bloody battlefield, an Orientalist’s fantasia, or a traveler’s playground fascinated the artist, especially as almost all of the images are representations of manufactured fictions anyway: surreal themeparks inspired by native mythologies; or solemnly contrived, propagandized war monuments; or places that portray a Vietnamese interpretation Pg 2 of 2 of Western culture’s view of itself. Australian-designed, E.U.-financed water parks cool down polyglot expat kids as they splash together on weekends. Ochre-hued walls of Indochine-style buildings never get painted, by design. Rusty U.S. Army helicopters put up as trophies are snubbed by those they are meant to awe. Once-neglected temple ruins of the Cham are re-built brick-by-brick – monuments of an ancien regime have morphed into magnets for middle class Chinese tourists from Shenzhen.