Reap the Whirlwind
by Hương Ngô
We recently got the opportunity to work with Hương Ngô on an edition of clamshell boxes encasing five volumes of books, each page printed and silkscreened, then handbound, and each cover blind debossed.
This edition of 8 was made in collaboration with Ty Deal of Delicious Design League, who silkscreened every page with thermochromic ink.
Reap the Whirlwind
This artist book serves as the anchor of the exhibition, Reap the Whirlwind, the solo exhibition of artist Hương Ngô just recently on view at Aspect/Ratio. The book is a collection of five handmade volumes with text excerpts from congaï novels that each narrate a different version of the logistical, ethical, and political aspects of the concubine system often practiced between Indochinese women and French men during the colonial period. Though appealing to a pulp fiction readership, each book offers a portrait of a character who is politicized against oppressive forces through her congaïship. Ngô has overprinted the collection with thermochromic ink, preventing the viewer from reading the text until it is touched and implicating them in this matrix of intimacies.
Hương Ngô is an interdisciplinary artist whose conceptual practice connects the personal and the political, giving material form to histories which have been rendered invisible and interrogating the ideological origins of their erasure. Having grown up as a refugee in the American South, Ngô creates work that reframes the hybrid, the imperfect, and the non-fluent as sites of survival and knowledge. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (BFA Fine Arts, 2001), School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA Art & Technology, 2004), and was a studio fellow at the Whitney Independent Study Program (2012). She was recently awarded the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant in Vietnam (2016) for her research, begun at the Archives Nationales d’Outre-Mer in France and recently presented at DePaul Art Museum (2017), that examines the colonial history of surveillance in Vietnam and the anti-colonial strategies of resistance vis-à-vis the activities of female organizers and liaisons.
Her work, which has been described as “deftly and defiantly decolonial” by New City and “what intersectional feminist art looks like” by the Chicago Tribune, has been exhibited at the MoMA (2018), MCA Chicago (2004, 2016, 2017), Para Site HK (2017), Nhà Sàn Collective (2016), the Queens Museum (2014), The Kitchen (2011, 2014), and the New Museum (2012) among others. She has been awarded the DCASE Individual Artist Program Grant (2017, 2018), the Illinois Arts Council (2018), Chicago Artists Coalition BOLT residency (2016-17), Rhizome Commission (2011), and has been in residency through the Camargo Foundation Core Program (2018), LATITUDE Chicago (2015), and SOMA Mexico (2014). She has taught at the MoMA, Pratt Institute, and Parsons The New School for Design and is currently Assistant Professor in Contemporary Practices at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.