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Another Crossing

July 5, 2019
June 7, 2019
Bảo Vương

‘ANOTHER CROSSING' by visual artist Bao Vuong features his latest series of paintings and a durational performance.

Born in Vietnam by the end of the 1970's, Bao Vuong's family fled from Vietnam when he was one year old on a boat like thousands of boat people leaving the country in this period of time.

The series of paintings in ANOTHER CROSSING is a projection of the nights in the open seas spent out by his family on the run, the same nights that hundreds of thousands of refugees have lived through the centuries and still know each day. Forsaken in the dark, without no a clue. Darkness increases imminent death and swallows those that have sacrificed and lost everything worth living. Black paint awakens fears associated with the exile, while reflections of light on the paint strokes represent shimmers of hope that give birth to a survival instinct, echoing the promise for a better world.

The performance piece by Bao Vuong in the exhibition entitled "Nước"/Water is a creation of a graphic work in situ, which started on the first day of the exhibition and ended four days later. Five days locked, deprived of contact, without food, relying only on the goodwill of the sky to hydrate. The whole performance was broadcasted live on Manzi's Facebook page.


“Huge is the night that governs us. It weighs on our hearts at dusk, when the shadows lengthen.

It's not always easy to have Vietnam as a legacy.”

1. “The Crossing VII”

--- I wonder how far you have to relive the drama to exorcise it.

Bao Vuong’s paintings of the series “THE CROSSING” are totally black. They are both realistic and abstract. The conductive thread of this series is a projection of a trauma, a projection of the nights in the open seas spent by his family on the run, the same nights that hundreds of thousands of refugees have lived by the past and are still living in different parts of the world.

Here in “The Crossing VII”,the infinite black sky meets the immensity of the sea. The shipwrecked man feels even more lost and humble before such a spectacle, he is invaded by an unspeakable feeling of loneliness.

2. Series of 4 oils paintings entitled “The Crossing XIII” – “Night 1 – 4”

"The Crossing XIII - Đêm" is a projection of the artist’s traumatic story. 

4 paintings for the 4 nights at sea. Texture of the paintings is sometimes fluid, sometimes dry and rough. The frozen waves are like a bad scar that does not want to be healed and is still itchy.

3. The Crossing XII

--- One day there is a crossing. A boat launched on the sea to escape the unspeakable. For those who are fleeing, there are no words. There is a deep wound: that of having to leave everything. That of facing unknown immensities at the risk of their lives. 

And then there are months of wandering, from camps to camps. The ocean is an impassable gulf. A dark place where the dead disappear without tombs. An abyss of ghosts.

Similar to other paintings of “THE CROSSING” series, the artist used black oil paint and completed with a handmade knife work. However, here the sea is smooth and the waves seem like boats: thousands of waves, thousands of boats, and eventually thousands of souls. Those waves of boats are sailing to an unidentified dream but a new promise of life.

Each "wave boat" is made with a single, strong stroke of a knife. They are like the decision to leave, radical and definitive. Like a knife planted in the heart.

4. “Untitled”

---I wonder how far you have to play with death to finally learn to live, to breathe normally

Here is a basic pencil drawing on paper. It represents the sea, the horizon and the sky. However, during the creative process, a hole was made in the middle of the drawing and we can see through.

This drawing is placed between two pieces of very thin transparent glass. The drawing and the two transparent pieces are suspended in the air, attached by a set of black adhesive tape, two transparent fishing wires connect the installation with the ceiling.

Any light breeze or any movement of visitors would make this installation swing. The work looks so fragile as if it is going to fall down; this fragility may give visitors a feeling of discomfort.

--- How many shipwrecks have fallen and drowned in the immensity of the water, who will never reach their destination ...

5. Performance “Nước

5 days – 4 nights from the 07/06/19 7pm to 11/06/19 6.30pm

Bao Vuong's performance is entitled "Nước": a creation of a graphic work in situ, which starts on the first day of the exhibition and ends 4 days later. Almost 5 days locked and deprived of contact, without food, relying only on the goodwill of the sky to hydrate. It will be a kind of long invocation, an ultimate test, to remember, to be closer to the memory of his parents, and the two hundred people with whom they shared a boat, of their suffering, those of all the boatpeople and all the migrants. It is for him a necessity, an extreme act to understand, to relive and to question, to create.

I asked my mother what state of mind she was on the boat at that time.

She said she was not scared or sad.

She couldn’t think of anything. She was just thirsty.

My first word as a child I pronounced, it was on the boat.

This first word was

« nước »


Because our eyes have not cried, because our hearts did not give up,
because they escaped that hell, I carry their destiny in me.

“As a witness, a smuggler of memory, as an artist, I speak for those who cannot speak, those who have no voice or words to say the unspeakable, to say what is buried in them. Like someone who is a novelist, director or lecturer, I tell by visual art, my story, that of my family, that of thousands and thousands torn people.

But it is also an endless journey, that of migrants throughout the world. Since 2014, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has recorded nearly 17,000 deaths and missing in the Mediterranean, including 5773 migrants whose bodies were found.

The problems of borders and exile will be even more central issues in the near future with global warming and the displacement of thousands or even millions of people who will be deprived of agrarian land or whose places of life have been invaded by waters.

This performance is for me a moment of spiritual retreat, a cut off from daily reality.  It is an artistic meditative act; I create a work that consists of lines more or less straight. A visual Buddhist "ohm" in a refound silence.

This performance is finally an act of ecological commitment. Our society is a society of excessive consumption; the having is more glorified than the being. Hyperconsumption becomes a duty and in the end a permanent dissatisfaction.

While by this artistic gesture, that is a non gesture, I show that it is totally possible to live with nothing.”

- Bảo Vương (Hanoi, June 2019)


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