Conflicted: Works from the Vietnam Archive Project, The Substation, 12 May - 1 July 2017
Image Credit: Matthew Stanton
Ao Dai is the traditional dress of Vietnam, consisting of a two panelled tunic worn over pants, it can be traced back 18th century Hue, though aspects of the dress pay homage to earlier historic events. Over the centuries the dress has altered and changed according to fashion, politics and economics. Key influences in the 20th century include the French colonialism period, and the Vietnam War.
Following the fall of Saigon, the ao dai fell out of favour. Viewed as a capitalist and decadent South Vietnamese trait, it was maintained in the West by the Vietnamese Diaspora as a tradition of the motherland. The Ao Dai experienced resurgence in Vietnam during the 1980’s as a symbol of national culture.
Indebted to my mother, the woman who was twice over displaced by war and conflict; a woman who will always provide for the needs of her children before her own. This project is a symbolic action to pay back the simple act of providing me with clothing.
By creating a series of Ao Dai this work will not only look at the relationship between my mother and I, but also the relationship between the Vietnamese Diaspora and the ao dai as a token of culture and a connection to the history, politics, family and country from which they have been displaced.