1. change the focus or direction of.
"the country is reorienting its social policies"
find one's position again in relation to one's surroundings.
"slowly they advanced, stopping every so often and reorienting themselves"
As expressed by Edward Said in Orientalism, our understanding of the Western world can only be appreciated by recognizing it as constructed by a Western binary in opposition to the East, or the Orient. This unstable and false dichotomy is demonstrated in Nguyen’s work, where the viewer’s assumptions of race, gender, and sexuality are visually interrogated.
At the heart of this body of work is the ability to expand one’s focus. To rotate the lens in which we perceive the world (using artist Titus Kaphar’s metaphor) simply to benefit from additional, excluded narratives. This is a pulse check, a reassessment, a chance to pause and reappraise the internal compass that we use to navigate. Hence, the title REORIENT, which references directionally the sun rising in the east, and is a nod to the artist’s national origin, Vietnam.
What follows is a collection of images highlighting the rejection of binaries that crop up in current events. This work is inherently intersectional. Many of the works defy categorization and could easily be placed in a different section, reinforcing the idea that the effects of societal prejudices are compounded on overlapping identities.
This exhibition is presented in its digital format by the William Rolland Gallery of Fine Art at California Lutheran University. A physical exhibit will be mounted when full on-campus presence resumes.
All images © 2020 Thinh Nguyen, Website Design by Emma Herren