Just in case the world ends in 2012, CentralTrak, UT Dallas’ artist residency, and local artist Mylan Nguyen want to throw a bash that everyone will remember. Nguyen has taken over the gallery, fabricating a pre-apocalyptic environment that engages all of the senses. Already Gone uses the metaphor of the end of civilization not as the end of existence but rather as the beginning of clarity and a more honest and connected presence of being.
CentralTrak director Heyd Fontenot caught up with Nguyen for a quick interview to discuss her upcoming show.
Heyd Fontentot: Describe the project you’re doing with CentralTrak.
Mylan Nguyen: The project I am doing with CentralTrak is called Already Gone. It is an art installation that will feature a house in which to celebrate what might be the end of days. With the 2012 mythology and all the rich mythologies we have surrounding the apocalypse, I thought it would be fun to reinterpret it in my own way. For me, if the world is ending then it is a time to celebrate the amazing lives we’ve led. Also, I think that knowing that everything could be over is a good reason to reflect on maybe our missteps in thinking and selfishness as a society. I am making a house with the thought that I could create a dream to safely hide in while the world around me crumbles to the ground.
HF: How does this installation resemble your bedroom? Living room? House? The house you grew up in?
MN: The installation resembles my bedroom and house in the choices I make as far as color, and that there will be a lot of my art and drawings hanging up inside of it. Also, I was able to make many functional ceramic objects to use in the house (cups, bowls, etc.) as well as many decorative ones. I grew up going to my grandmother’s house – she always had the coolest knickknacks all over the place. I think you can tell a lot about people by what they collect. I was able to borrow her amazing old record player that we listened to when I was a small girl. Listening to music from the record player will bring back memories of dancing with my grandma, I’m sure.
HF: Have you done an installation like this before?
MN: Yes. For my senior thesis at Otis College of art and design I made a boathouse. In a lot of ways they are similar. The boathouse installation was centered around escapism. I wanted to create a place where the viewer could “escape” from regular life by stepping into the world where my drawings take place. It is a rewarding challenge to try and translate my ideas through different mediums, and I think each gives the viewer a different experience.
HF: Are you physically part of the exhibit? If so, pinpoint why your presence is an integral element to show’s meaning.
MN: Yes, I will be present all four days of the show and hosting. I want to be playing records and serving food and drinks and talking to the people who look at the work. I think this is integral to the show’s meaning because the artist is the prophet saying, “everything could be over tomorrow but lets live before we die.” To the very end I want to be making things and showing people the things I made. I want to be enjoying myself and seeing people I care about there and telling them thank you and how much I love them.
HF: Is the timing of the exhibit — New Year’s Eve — especially poignant?
MN: I think it’s fitting to do a show about it at the end of this year with all the mythologies surrounding 2012.
HF: Some might interpret the title of your show as a biblical “Book of Revelation” reference to “End of Times.” Is there a spiritual element to this show?
MN: I view the artist as a prophet, the drawings and paintings as dreams/memory prophesies, and the house as the dream conjured to life in which we will celebrate the end together.
HF: List four words or turns of phrases that you can find on Urbandictionary.com that could relate to your show, and list them here.
MN: ephemeral, SWAG, ghetto, crunk.
Already Gone will be briefly installed at CentralTrak’s gallery. Details here. The artist will be in attendance and hosting during the exhibition hours. Dec. 30: noon to 5pm, Dec. Dec. 31: 6pm until 2 a.m., and Jan. 1: noon to 5pm.