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Art Really Can Be Anything...Considering The Masterpieces Made Out of Bombshells, Anyway

By: Benjamin He

Opinions differ on art.

What is it? Is it art if the creator says it is? Is there good art and bad art? Who decides if art is art? Why is Jigglypuff so good in the Pokemon anime when it’s so bad in Super Smash Bros? Why? WHY, PINKY, WHY?!

*ahem* Anyway, away from the Smash and Pokemon franchises, real-world art is quite a controversial topic.

As a human creation, art finds wacky ways to present itself to the world. Just look at million dollar paintings of serial killer Hindely, phonographic pictures, and other artworks which have sparked countless debates. Of course, there are other, more immersive ways to dive into the world of art. And other types of artists.

An example? Take emerging artist Andrew Nguyen. Born in 1976 Ho Chi Minh and growing up in Oklahoma, Texas and then Southern California, he eventually developed an interest in art at the University of California.

Nguyen hadn’t ever experienced Vietnam, but his parents were both from the country. He eventually set foot in Vietnam to experience the place firsthand and to stay with his grandmother. Nguyen stated that he felt a need to experience the place in person.

So began his art arc: Documentaries/videos.

Nguyen’s first major solo works appeared in the 2017 Whitney Biennial: “The Island” an apocalyptic video set in a part of Malaysia that 2-year-old Nguyen grew up in.

Nguyen had wanted to make a film about Quang Tri for years, but only, ironically enough, got a chance when the pandemic hit in 2021. He traveled domestically, flying north and partnering with Project Renew, an N.G.O.-fueled effort to disarm the unexploded shells scattered around the area.

Bombshells were the only resource the region had left.

The film “Unburied Sounds,” was created reflecting the lifestyle of many locals there, living off scavenged metal from unexploded shells, such is the way of the main character, Nguyet. Various backgrounds, mostly involving explosions, death, and dismemberment, are common.

Two historical figures were included in the film: the sculptor Alexander Calder and the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, both famed anti war campaigners in the ’60s and ’70s.

Nguyet winds up believing that she is Alexander Calder reincarnated somehow, and visits a Buddhist temple, where a bell was created from an American bomb.

That was a piece of art. So, depending on the purview of your philosophical conundrums, anything truly can be art. This piece of writing is art. I am art. You are art. Eminem spitting hot bars is art. And of course, beating someone while playing Villager in Super Smash Bros is art.

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