Beautiful Life


performed and exhibited

+ ART OMI – Ghent , New York , USA . Funded by Ford Foundation – Jul 2008 

The beautiful life: birth, death, rebirth, death, rebirth

Installation combined with durational performance art

Duration: two weeks followed by a 16 hour performance

Size: 3×5 m

Material: 5 pieces of thin burlap, 35.5 x 100 inches / 90 cm x 2,5 meters, white cloth, wood, rubbish, pebble, branches


I made an installation for 15 days from 01 July – 16 July 2008 at the Art OMI residency in Ghent, New York. The installation included five vertical pieces. In Vietnam and some other Asian countries, the number 1 means birth, number 2 means getting old, number 3 means illness, number 4 means death, and number 5 means rebirth.

I collected small stones, broken branches, lumber scraps, and my own and others’ trash, and glued them on four pieces of burlap. I was trying to give these normally useless or unnoticed things a new life and making them visible in a new way.

The process of collecting things for this installation was also a performance work.

1st burlap : I collected small stones that everyday I stepped over often unnoticed and glued them to the first burlap, making them become visible in a new way.

2nd burlap : I collected broken branches which had fallen on the grass and gave them a new life, gluing them to the second hanging burlap as an abstract water fall.

3rd burlap : I collected lumber scraps which another artist threw away while making a large sculpture and gave them a new life by gluing them to the third burlap in a form suggesting the wind.

4th burlap : I glued pieces of my own trash on the fifth burlap panel and went to other artist’s studios to ask them to collaborate with me by bringing several pieces of their trash to my studio and gluing them on the burlap by themselves. After 15 days, the fifth burlap became a beautiful mixed media art work made by 31 artists in the Art OMI Residency.

5th burlap : I cut holes in the fourth burlap to express the feeling of bark peeling off tree trunks, imagining that one sees life through these holes.

On 16 July, I hung all five pieces of burlap into a tall frame on the grass field. From that point one can see the sun rise and set from one border of field to the other. On 17 July 2008, I began my performance at 5 am and it lasted until 9 pm. I wore white cloth such as people in my country wear for a funeral and sat in front of the installation without talking or eating for sixteen hours, drinking only a little water during the day. I wanted to purify myself for one day by devoting myself to this beautiful life. At 8:30 pm, around dusk, I began burning my art work as well as the white cloth under the light of the full moon. After everything was burned, I buried all of the ashes in a pit on the field.

In the following morning, I put a wooden fence around this pit in the grass field, with the strong believe that some kind of tree will grow from those ashes.