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Thu Van Tran, Être Hévéa (Being a Rubber Tree) (detail), 2011, wood, wax; three boxes, each 90 1/2 x 17 3/4 x 12 1/4".

Thu Van Tran

Gallery Martine Aboucaya

Thu Van Tran, Être Hévéa (Being a Rubber Tree) (detail), 2011, wood, wax; three boxes, each 90 1/2 x 17 3/4 x 12 1/4".

La Tache, the French translation of Philip Roth’s novel The Human Stain (2000), a gripping confrontation of race, religion, academia, and the Vietnam War in late-twentieth-century America, provided the title and starting point for Vietnamese-born artist Thu Van Tran’s exhibition of sculpture, drawing, and installation. Addressing French colonialism, the Catholic Church’s mission in Southeast Asia, the rubber trade, and the Vietnam War, as well as American Minimalism, Tran introduced a myriad of moral and political conflicts similar to those engaged by Roth. Tran did not distill her concerns into a coolly communicable set of works; instead she overwhelmed her audience with urgent questions concerning personal identity, national history, and sexuality, presenting work that, like Roth’s, balances between raw passions and rage.

For the four-part text piece La Langue (Language), 2011,

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