Minh Lan Tran

Space of Resistance

01 Sep – 04 Nov 2023
Jan Kaps, Cologne


Installation Views

Press Release

Transforming violence into ardor. - Minh Lan Tran Language is usually spoken, written, or read. It is unstable and living. It can be invented, forgotten, and misunderstood. In her first solo exhibition at Jan Kaps, Minh Lan Tran presents a new series of paintings and a site-specific installation inhabited by calligraphic gestures, punctuation, extinct languages, and body marks, through which she questions the linearity of meaning and its resistance to matter. The artist begins with writing. Words are repeated like a mantra. The exhibition is set up through actions: forward motion, provoking an activating. The action generates energy, provokes and activates the space of the canvas or the stage in her installation work Disincarnation. Like an invocation of ancestral voices, she inscribes her canvases and by adding gestures and materials, conceals and reveals the writing beneath the surface of the paintings. What happens to language when words disappear or the alphabet changes? Her language speaks with resonance, also as an hommage to those who have had their voices taken away. Minh Lan Tran's references range from poetry to dance to theology. Her artistic practice is guided by the concept of incarnation or embodiment rather than representation. It is the idea of being born and reborn through transformation into flesh or matter. Her paintings embody her multiple influences, creating a body that grows organically rather than representing something she already knows. She treats her paintings like wounded and healed skin: scratched, opened and washed, while she incorporates salts, pigments, fabrics, and rice paper onto the surface. More recently, Minh Lan Tran has researched the history of Buddhist self-immolation. This practice, commonly associated with the auto-cremation of Buddhist monks in Tibet or Vietnam, has ancient roots in other countries such as India and China. The artist, who is primarily interested in the act of revolt explores phenomena of the transformation of violence in political, spiritual, and individual contexts. In response to her recent performance Heat Generation (prayer), in which she explored heat as an element of transformation, Minh Lan Tran used the stage floor in the site-specific installation Disincarnation, as a ground that keeps the score of performed actions. She sees the ashes as a symbol of the remaining witness to the transformation of one thing into another. Using matter with both intuition and intention, Minh Lan Tran takes on the role of a witness herself and, as such, she drives her work into uncertainty. Trusting the mystery as it unfolds.