As a queer disabled Vietnamese boat refugee, Việt Lê’s creative and critical practice focuses on sexualities, spiritualities, and healing and asks: “is a pathology really a power?” Their hybrid project encompasses experimental ﬁlm, performance, painting, sculpture, and academic text and centers contemporary transnational artists working through multi-sensory mediumship. Expanding deﬁnitions of “trans,” “trance,” and “medium,” this work highlights queer feminist artists who use various corporeal aspects–sight, sound, touch, smell, taste–to embody spiritual traditions ranging from Asian indigenous shamanism to Black Atlantic religions.
Dr. Việt Lê is an artist, academic, and curator, and is an Associate Professor at California College of the Arts. They are the author of Return Engagements: Contemporary Art’s Traumas of Modernity and History in Sài Gòn and Phnom Penh (Duke University Press, 2021), and collaborated with Latipa on the art book White Gaze (Sming Sming Books | Candor Art, 2019).
A 2022 Stanford CCSRE Mellon Arts Fellow, Lê has presented their work at the Shanghai Biennale, Rio Gay Film Festival, the Smithsonian, and other venues. Lê curated Charlie Don’t Surf! (Centre A, Vancouver, BC, 2005); and co-curated transPOP: Korea Việt Nam Remix (with Yong Soon Min: ARKO, Seoul; Galerie Quynh, Sài Gòn; UC Irvine Gallery; YBCA, San Francisco, 2008-09), the 2012 Kuandu Biennale (Taipei) and the 2022 Viet Film Fest. Lê is a board member of the Queer Cultural Center and Art Matters.
Portrait of Việt Lê courtesy of NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore.
Việt Lê with Jamie Maxtone-Graham, excerpt from eclipse, 2016; HD experimental film; TRT: 6:16; featuring the music of Đại Lâm Linh.
Việt Lê, teaser for heARTbreak!, 2017; HD experimental film, TRT: 5:55.