Art by Diane Severin Nguyen

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Diane Severin Nguyen

To produce her photo and film works, Diane Severin Nguyen makes amalgam sculptures from found materials, both natural and synthetic. She captures these ephemeral constructions at close range, enlarging minute tensions. Nguyen uses transient prosthetic light sources—the glow of sunset, an iPhone flash, battery-powered LEDs, fire—so that the camera intervenes just before these temporary arrangements, as well as their lighting, change. The results pinpoint an ineffable moment in time, when subject and matter linger in a state of transformation, growth, or decay, suggesting a body rendered unstable.

Through a large-scale intervention alongside the windows of the loggia, Nguyen translates her usually photographic consideration of boundaries, barriers, and permeability to a sculptural form. This large red curtain is slit, sliced, and cut in a manner that resembles her process of making images but also stands in for the technical process of photography itself as it filters the natural light outside and imprints textures onto the interior galleries. In this installation a single photograph by Nguyen stands alongside the curtain, responding to its effect as a counterpoint, a negative.

In Made in L.A. 2020: a version, the artist's work is present in two institutions, across Los Angeles. See Diane Severin Nguyen's work on view at the Hammer.

BIOGRAPHY
Diane Severin Nguyen was born in 1990 in Carson, California. Nguyen received her BA from Virginia Commonwealth University and her MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. Nguyen works with found objects and organic matter to craft the images in her photographs and video works, transforming substances found in quotidian domestic spaces to evoke the body rendered unstable. Her materials are often plant-based, coagulating, metallic, and wet. She focuses on matter in states of transformation: the moment that is decisively caught—frozen—and describes intentionally capturing an in-betweenness that can be expressed as physical tension or irresolute states. She uses transient prosthetic lighting—the glow of sunset, an iPhone flash, battery-powered LEDs, fire—so that the camera intervenes moments before these temporary arrangements and their lighting change. The results are gut-wrenching, uncanny compositions: they evoke something unseeable, such as the “architecture of emotions,” but also very real bodily functions. Nguyen is interested in the journalistic moment of photography. Of course, the journalistic takes on a highly specific meaning within photography; it is inseparable from the violent history of capturing “source material.” Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include Minor twin worlds with Brandon Ndife, Bureau, New York; Dead Slow with Julien Monnerie, curated by Shivers Only, Exo Exo, Paris; Flesh before Body, Bad Reputation, Los Angeles; and Reoccurring Afterlife, Empty Gallery, Hong Kong (all 2019). Her recent video work Tyrant Star (2019) was presented at the New York Film Festival in October 2019.

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