Long Tinh Ky, 2016

Mixed used fabrics, cotton, thread, wood from traditional Hue houses

130cm x 80cm

‘Long Tinh Kỳ (Dragon Star Flag)’, is a replica of the first flag of the Nguyen Dynasty, used from 1802 to 1883. Just within 2 years 1883-1885, Vietnam saw the rise and fall of 4 different emperors,[1] 3 installed and overturned by the imperial court, the fourth, due to opposition to the French, was banished to Algeria until death. Also within 1883, Vietnam was sliced into 3 regions under the French Protectorate.[2]Dragon Star Flag” at a glance seems like the perfect symbol for this situation: its patchwork conspicuous, the background consisting of 3 pieces instead of one, their colors diverting considerably from the original. Hung under an antique wooden bar, it looks more like a sad piece of fabric than a flag that embodies the pride of a nation. This patchwork covers a historical period, with the grief of a divided nation embroidered onto it. When asked why she was interested in discussing this particular historical period, Tran Chau said there are other periods that are equally intriguing but the symbols associated with those period can easily be misinterpreted due to their resemblance to a “sensitive” flag[3]. Thus, the Dragon Star Flag ultimately was the best option.

[1] At a glance: Tu Duc died in 1883; Duc Duc was emperor for 3 days before the chancellors Ton That Thuyet and Nguyen Van Tuong overthrew him. Hiep Hoa had the throne for 4 months before the court dethroned him, then died from poison. Kien Phuc reigned for 8 months before dying at the age of 16. Ham Nghi rose to the throne at 16 but within less than a year he was caught supporting the anti-French movement and was exiled to Algeria.

[2] more information can be found in the Quy Mui Accord: chapter XII, Vietnamese History, by Tran Trong Kim.

[3] that of Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) 1955-1975

Text by Tra Nguyen/