Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai is an artist born in Hanoi in 1983, and based in Hue, Vietnam. Day by Day is a solo exhibition that draws on over one year of intensive research in rural fishing communities of Vietnamese who either live currently in Cambodia, or else have recently returned to Vietnam after living in Cambodia. The men, women and children in these communities face daily struggles resulting from their inability to secure national identification from either the Cambodian or Vietnamese governments.

The project includes a fully illustrated catalogue, in Khmer, Vietnamese and English, including an artist’s statement and an essay by curator Roger Nelson. Available for download here.

Day by Day consists of four inter-related serial works in various media. The works continue the artist’s longstanding interest in materials, yet also represent a significant shift in her practice, away from studio-based solitary processes and toward a more socially engaged, participatory process that includes extensive interviews and interactions with the communities she visited in Pursat and Siem Reap, Cambodia and Long An, Vietnam.

The exhibition, curated by Roger Nelson, premiered at SA SA BASSAC in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in January 2015. It then showed at Sao La, Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts Museum, Saigon, Vietnam in March 2015. In 2016 the exhibition will show in Hanoi, Vietnam as part of a festival organized by Nha San collective, titled Skylines with Flying People 3. 

The exhibition is accompanied by a dynamic series of public programs. In Phnom Penh, the artist welcomed student groups from the AZIZA community school in the White Building, as well as students of sociology from the Royal University of Phnom Penh. In addition, a film screening with Q&A discussion was hosted by Bophana Center. In Saigon, the exhibition opening was incorporated into the Art Walk involving numerous art spaces and studios. A film screening with artist’s talk was hosted by Sàn Art. In Hanoi, a film screening with artist’s talk, organized by Nha San collective, was hosted by the Goethe Institut Hanoi.

Thanks to Art Radar Asia, Milk Magazine (Khmer and English) and The Phnom Penh Post for publishing interviews with the artist.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai was awarded a 12-month residency at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, Germany from April 2015 to April 2016.

Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai, Shadow (detail), 2014. Installation view, SA SA BASSAC

Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai, Shadow (detail), 2014. Installation view, SA SA BASSAC

Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai, Travels, 2014-15. Installation view, SA SA BASSAC