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Program : Installations





Video installation, 18 min 53 sec

Artist : Diane Severin Nguyen

Venue : World Travel Service

Diane Severin Nguyen expands on her nuanced investigation of contemporary politics and their complicated expressions and embodiment in IF REVOLUTION IS A SICKNESS. Beginning with the dreary landscapes of Warsaw, the video follows an orphaned Vietnamese child as she associates and attempts to discover her own identity within a nation as well as ideological belonging through K-pop. The protagonist, Weronika, is played by a Polish-Vietnamese teenager Nguyen discovered on social media. Embodying the stereotypical position of outsider, she navigates complex transnational political alliances formed during the Cold War and the struggles of the Vietnamese diasporic population currently living in Poland. “If I don’t become an artist then I will just remain a victim”—the lyrics suggest a call for emancipation, to configure possibilities and live in a new image.

A narrated rumination sourced from various texts about revolution on collective action and the paradox of liberation and alienation moves into a performance of a pop music video that gives the work its title. The insistence to find an identity comes to the fore as protagonist Weronika and members of her adopted dance troupe members “lose themselves to the new image” as sung in the song’s lyrics. It becomes imperative to ask on whose terms an identity is formed, and how then one finds their name within a nation, a regime, in a force ever so encompassing. Caught between nostalgia for revolutionary fervor for pasts yet realized and present-day pop culture co-optation of every ideology, the self is fraught and must transition, attach and reattach themselves through the whirlwind of media. IF REVOLUTION IS A SICKNESS’s presence in Bangkok is ever relevant, where histories are rewritten with each passing day and the substance of political trauma steadily rises yet is surpassed by a regime of image production that dominates the political and popular imagination.


Co-produced by SculptureCenter, New York and Renaissance Society, Chicago. Additional support for the video was provided by the Polish Cultural Institute New York and U jazdowski Residencies, Warsaw.