Q&A with Shaye Dương

You are currently preparing for a solo exhibition at firstdraft titled Telesm. How long have you been working on the project?

I’d started thinking about the various ideas surrounding the works within Telesm since the beginning of 2022, and have been working on bringing the show to life throughout the duration of my ACE Studio Program residency.

What inspired Telesm

Within my practice, I seem to always return to architecture. I'm interested in the feeling of security and authority and how it manifests in architectural structures, how the objects around us mould our perception of place and reference movement/migration of communities. For the body of work in Telesm, I was thinking about the physical and psychological influence of infrastructural objects on our bodies to move in certain ways or receive certain types of information. I’ve referenced various objects of spatial control in the urban environment, such as locks, surveillance cameras, security mirrors and lights. I then started drawing connections between these objects and ritual practices and myths, as they have been seen to serve a similar kind of prescriptive order that influence us to think or behave in a similar way as urban infrastructure. Telesm specifically explores these structures that could be thought of as ‘non-objects’—objects whose presence or function we may or may not consciously register or relate to in any intimate sense, but accept as being inherent to the built environment we move through.

How are you feeling ahead of Telesm

I’m feeling quite nervous to be exhibiting my first solo show interstate but also really supported and excited. <3 It’s been a super busy few months so I’m keen to see the works finally be presented. 

Is Telesm different from your other works?

My previous work focussed on vernacular architecture and objects of traditional Vietnamese cultural practices of ritual and divination such as altars and buddhist knots, and explored how these visual cues shape my experience of and navigation within cultural spaces. Telesm has seen a shift towards more banal architectures within the external and impersonal urban environment and the intersection of this with ritual practices and mythology. 

What was your favourite piece to work on?

I especially loved making the works that incorporate casting—I have a huge obsession with casting and love the problem-solving process involved in trying to make a copy of an object that already exists in the world. These works were cast in resins and metals which are materials I’d never worked with, so that was quite exciting. 

Telesm was presented at firstdraft, Sydney, in partnership with Adelaide Contemporary Experimental, 9 September to 16 October 2022. 

ACE tampinthi, ngadlu Kaurna yartangka panpapanpalyarninthi (inparrinthi). Kaurna miyurna yaitya mathanya Wama Tarntanyaku. Parnaku yailtya, parnaku tapa purruna, parnaku yarta ngadlu tampnthi. Yalaka Kaurna miyurna itu yailtya, tapa purruna, yarta kuma puru martinthi, puru warri-apinthi, puru tangka martulayinthi.

ACE respectfully acknowledges the traditional Country of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains and pays respect to Elders past and present. We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. We acknowledge that they are of continuing importance to the Kaurna people living today.