Food for the dead

2020 – ongoing

„Honour your ancestors.
Set up a home altar.
Offer fruits and light incese sticks.
Remember your grandfather on his deathday and prepare him his favourite meal.“

This project is about honouring traditions and rituals, while at the same time questioning its position in our current times and place, as well as its history and its development. The series is exploring the tradition of worshipping and honouring ancestors and the mourning process of losing a beloved one.

The work consists of research material, photographs of Thi My Lien Nguyen’s family archive and her own images.

Mời, mời

2021, performance and installation view at Jungkunst 2021 in Winterthur

In «Mời, mời» Nguyen invites the audience to dive into her interpretation of the diverse experiences of secondas and secondos. With this multimedia project Nguyen highlights the issues around Asian hatred and tries to dismantle the model minority myth by questioning the Asian stereotype. Nguyen explores these issues visually and performatively, using food and the act of commune eating as a way to invite the audience to a discourse and to collaboratively unlearn our views on “the other” and the unknown.

The performance took place twice.
During the performance the artist prepared a full meal on location and served a table to offer her ancestors. Within these hours a space has been established where visitors of the exhibition were getting in touch with the artist. Asking questions, starting conversations. The audience was then invited to join the artist in the worshipping ritual, after she briefly explained the context and the steps to go through the ritual. Then the meals were enjoyed with an invited group through an open call, where questions and stories around the meaning of food, traditions, rituals and identity were discussed and exchanged.

video documentation            by Dylan
photo documentation            by Raisa Durandi



2020 – ongoing

Being of Vietnamese descent can mean many things. For me, it’s being drawn to certain objects, places, and lived experiences among people of Vietnamese heritage. My country of origin remains a mystery. Despite my urge to understand, it somehow feels very difficult to access, to connect, to be part of. Why is that? I am always searching, always trying. Again and again. In spaces, in stories, in people — even in me.
In the collision of two cultures, values and attitudes are often eva- luated, either dissolved into each other, kept intact, or rethought and modified.

This series is about searching and (not) finding. It questions the process of being shaped and influenced by different factors and its consequences in our globalized world, reconsidering our understanding of what used to be and where we will go from now on.
Combining archive and new photographs, it aims to shed light on the lived realities of a marginalized group which often go unseen in the Western mainstream media.


Hiếu thảo – With love and respect



Hiếu thảo – With love and respect

In the wake of the Vietnam War, Thi My Lien Nguyen’s family fled from Laos to Switzerland in 1979. The Swiss-born Vietnamese enjoyed a pleasant and carefree youth. Nguyen grew up in the 2000s, the new millennium in which globalization brought quotidian trans-culturality and products from all cultural realms of the world to Swiss daily life. Nguyen’s desire to appraise her cultural background grew with the years.

In a calm and respectful way, Nguyen examines the subtle cultural, national and ethnic influences, which mark her life, putting three generations of her Swiss-based family center stage: her grandmother, her mother and finally herself.

Nguyen asks her two female ancestors in the motherly line about their concepts of Swiss culture and compares these with her own. She also asks herself which Vietnamese cultural values are important to her, next to her Swiss identity.

Like Nguyen, many descendants of immigrants live within two cultures, that of the homeland and that of the land of immigration. Nguyen’s photographic project offers an insight into the life of a young Swiss Vietnamese living within, with and between two cultures. Based on her selection of images from the family album and her own photos, she shows the development of her own family’s post-migration background. Editing images, documents, histories and memories of her own family, Nguyen developed the visual narrative of her photo book, which was graphically designed by Sven Lindhorst-Emme and Mats Sander of studio lindhorst-emme, Berlin.


Hiếu thảo – With love and respect

In addition to the photographs and the large poster around the book as a cover,
the book contains three individual objects and a facsimile of the artist’s Swiss identity card.

Copyright: Thi My Lien Nguyen, 2017
Photography: Thi My Lien Nguyen
Graphic Design: studio lindhorst-emme, Berlin

First edition of 25 copies
Second edition of 50 copies

sold out.