“Eastman Was Here follows Alan Eastman, a washed up author who turns to Saigon for the swan song that will save his career and his marriage. Set in the immediate aftermath of the Vietnam War, the book highlights the type of authors who have cast a spell on us at some point—manly men boasting manly emotions, who dissolve their Pain in drugs, women and prose. These are writers descended from Hemingway’s poisonous line, but with a more urbane spin, like Roth, Updike, Irving, Mailer and their peers. You know, the stereotypical novelists who were the accolade-winning dicks in the American post-war literary scene.
We’ve all been suffering in their long, dark shadows ever since.”
“In the thin hallway gallery adjacent to the bulk of the show, prints made with the obsolete hectographic method—the kind used by the anti-colonial activists—use agar-agar, a common Asian dessert ingredient, to display English, Vietnamese and French iterations of the pro-immigration rallying cry “We are here because you were there.” The artist’s royal purple agitprop hangs over the observer’s heads like Damocles’ sword, a powerful reminder that history is written in blood and spoken through the gnashing of teeth. One leaves the show with eyes open, but blurred by now-knowing tears.”
“Seeking to illuminate the West’s blind spot for Southeast Asia, the Ho Chi Minh City art collective-cum-advertising company The Propeller Group produces ambitious multimedia projects through artifacts, videos, and sculptural works … The Propeller Group delves into deep issues with surprising approachability, something that can be credited to their experiences in the commercial realm. Free of haughty abstraction, they seek to make art that is both powerful and easy to grasp.”