Installation Shot, Van Every Smith Galleries, Davidson College

The Sky Is Not Sacred

Lien Truong & Hồng-Ân Trương
Installation shot info: Island Gallery, New York
The Sky is Not Sacred
Single channel video
Color with sound
TRT 8:00
The single channel video entitled, The Sky Is Not Sacred, was created in collaboration with artist Hồng-Ân Trương.  Hồng-Ân’s conceptual practice often mines archives of our material past to expose visual genealogies that agitate positions of power. In the video, footage taken from war planes in the sky during the American War in Việt Nam chronicles the perspectives of fighter pilots, and is juxtaposed with a narrative by John Constable, the 19th century British painter whose keen observations of the sky and clouds established a distinct landscape painting practice. Constable’s text professes an authentic reverence to the sky, suggesting the idealization of nature and science as an aesthetic epistemology. Together, image and text concede in admiration and awe, to the sky’s stature as a sublime, horrifying space. The Sky Is Not Sacred suggests the tension between the aesthetic and the political, and asserts the way in which Western ideologies have violently impacted the Vietnamese landscape, and more broadly, how they have shaped our cultural and emotional relationship to landscape as an imaginary space.
The Sky is Not Sacred's  large triptych painting on paper examines Operation Popeye, a US military operation that used weather modification during its military campaign in Southeast Asia. Planes dropped seeding agent into clouds, which initiated rainfall and extended monsoon season, making vehicular travel impossible over terrain. The triptych interprets 3 of stages of clouds from declassified diagrams in Operation Popeye. Appearing in a vast landscape, hard edges, structure and uncanny color agitate natural observations between sky and water.