Abstract

This photo essay was part of a project at a studio residency in December 2018 in the Hòa Binh Province situated in northwest Vietnam. It is home to a minority (roughly 1.5 percent of the population) known as the Muong. They lay claim to a special indigeneity dating back to the second century, when the population began to become heavily Sinicized. Living in the mountains, they escaped the same level of interracial mixing as those in the more populated lower regions. The art project began as “Drawn in Translation,” in which I wrote fragments each day and translated them electronically, first into French and then into Vietnamese, anticipating errors. These texts were then rendered on a paper roll and interspersed with drawings taken from photographs, some of which are reproduced below. As a flow from the first project, this photo-essay is entitled “The Dawn of Translation,” as it expresses the many mismatches that occur in encounters with people, landscapes, and customs different from one's own.

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