Drawing upon extensive research, Sung Tieu produces works of sculpture, drawing, text and sound. Her work explores questions of governance, civic responsibility and justice, and analyzes mechanisms of state control. Her research ventures into the quiet violence of bureaucratic systems in particular and how these systems impact people psychologically and emotionally. Her work has itself sometimes taken the form of reconstructions of sites of bureaucratic control and surveillance, even referencing her personal experiences with various administrative apparatuses.
The exhibition Civic Floor includes a new body of sculpture and wall-based works, which are accompanied by sound and video. In the exhibition, a series of steel sculptures makes reference to prison architecture from “radial" prisons first developed in the 1840s (and following the infamous Panopticon designs) to newer forms of prison architecture produced since the 1990s. These sculptures give one an intimate view of the brutal mechanisms of spatial organization and surveillance methods designed in tandem with the architecture. Each sculpture also contains earth that references each prison's location. The sculptures are accompanied by wall-works based on documents used to assess individuals' eligibility for immigration and asylum or those that act as appeals against deportation or for refugees to apply for a 'waiver of grounds of inadmissibility'.
Tieu analyzes and re-creates politically-motivated systems of control and administrative violence, dissecting them with a cool gaze and distinct critique. In previous artwork she has flirted with other political apparatuses. She has reconstructed the acoustic attacks associated with Havana syndrome, and then captured her own exposure to the sound via brain scans. In earlier work she had employed the audio recordings by the US military psychological operations (PSYOP) that were used to destabilize the Vietnamese National Liberation Front.
Civic Floor is produced in partnership with Luxembourg -Musée d'Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, MIT List Visual Arts Center, and Southern Alberta Art Gallery Maansiksikaitsitapiitsinikssin (SAAG).
Sung Tieu (b.1987, Hai Duong, Vietnam) lives and works in Berlin. She has held solo exhibitions at Kunstmuseum Bonn; Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig (2021); Nottingham Contemporary; and Haus der Kunst, Munich (2020). Her work was included in the 34th Bienal de São Paulo and has been exhibited at Museion, Bolzano; Kunsthalle Basel (2021); Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt; GAMeC Museum, Bergamo; and Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2020). Tieu is the recipient of the Frieze Artist Award 2021 and the 2021 ars viva Prize. She also received the audience award for the 2021 Preis der Nationalgalerie, Berlin.
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