Installation with black poster paper, black gaffer’s tape, cyanotypes, sand, plaster, studio refuse, framed archival pigment prints
2017 – ongoing
And the state of emergency is also always a state of emergence. – Homi Bhabha, Black Skin, White Masks, Foreword to 1986 edition.
Life in a refugee camp consists of a home that is half of a four by six foot cubicle. – Donald Larson, director of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, "The Hong Kong Refugee Crisis: Suggestions for U.S. Policy Makers,” 1989.
How does the absent body make its presence felt? In this ongoing body of work, Hương Ngô draws from the stories of her family’s nearly two year-long stay in Hong Kong refugee camps through the eyes of her siblings, who were children at the time. This shift in perspective reorients the field of possibilities and experience of the camp, complicating clear victim or hero narratives that dominate the retelling of a refugee experience and animating Homi Bhabha’s assertion, “And the state of emergency is also always a state of emergence.” Using as a formalist departure point the measurement, “a home that is half of a four by six foot cubicle,” which served as a critique of the treatment of Vietnamese refugees who were given the minimal amount of space in the camps, Ngô combines architectural sculpture with traces of her siblings’ experiences to ask “What sustains the body? What do we carry and what do we shed?”
Beginning at the point in which Ngô receives a letter from a UNHCR officer stating that her family’s records in the camps are not retrievable, the lack of a document becomes central to unraveling the slippery nature of memory and exploring how intergenerational trauma can be experienced. The figure of the refugee as migrating multiple is turned on its head as singular objects upset the bureaucracy of global circulation of refugees. Materials both yielding and strong, water and paper figure prominently as materials that act as both engulfing surface and protective shelter.