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EXHIBITION: Untitled (Entitled)

Untitled (Entitled)
Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn
November 08 – December 14 2019

Opening Reception: November 08, 2019 | 6–8PM

Untitled (Entitled)
is a text-based installation that is an extension of Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn’s exploration on the ideological construction of white-colonial settler’s multiculturalism and its mechanisms. In a study titled “Why Do Some Employers Prefer to Interview Matthew, but Not Samir? New Evidence from Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver”, scholars Philip Oreopoulos and Diane Dechief revealed that employers in these cities are nearly 35% more likely to call back a job applicant with a Western European name than someone with a name common in minority and Indigenous groups, regardless of the applicant’s experience. Although Canada perceives itself as a leader of multiculturalism, Oreopoulos & Dechief’s numbers show a gaping contradiction, specifically in regards to employment equity. Untitled (Entitled) is a critical assessment of the nation’s interpretation of multiculturalism, offering exposure into the daily realities and struggles of non-white lives who have been forced to implement westernized naming practices. 

Starting in 2012, Nguyễn has been conducting interviews with migrants across Canada and abroad to understand the rationale behind the adoption of an English homologue of their given name. These interviews have been translated through an installation where each subject is represented by a lenticular panel and mounted on a mobile structure. Lenticular lenses are used commonly for advertising billboards and allow the presentation of two images embedded in one, creating an optical ‘flip effect’. Depending on the viewing angle of the audience, the lenticular shows one image merging into another, which then creates an illusion of animation. For the exhibition, both the adopted and mother tongue names of the interviewed subjects are printed on the lenticulars, oscillating back and forth in reaction to movement within the gallery. The objective of Untitled (Entitled) is to make visible the uneven linguistic and colonial translations culturally marginalized groups perform everyday, by revealing the permeable strategies of Western society. Language, as used in this exhibition, exposes the fictional, misleading and individual character of naming practices, making evident the limits of national multiculturalism.

Exhibition text by Diane Dechief can be downloaded here.

Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn
is a research-based artist and uses a broad range of media, often relying on archival material to investigate issues of historicity, collectivity, Utopian politics, and multiculturalism within the framework of feminist theory. Currently based in Stockholm, she completed the Whitney’s Independent Study Program, New York, in 2011, having obtained her MFA and a post-graduate diploma in Critical Studies from the Malmö Art Academy, Sweden, in 2005, and a BFA from Concordia University, Montreal, in 2003. Nguyễn’s work has been shown internationally in institutions including Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art, Vancouver (2018); Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Philadelphia (2018); MAMA, Rotterdam (2018); MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina (2017); and SAVVY, Berlin (2017). Nguyễn was the 2017 Audain Visual Artist-In-Residence at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada and participated in NTU Center for Contemporary Art Singapore’s Residencies Program (2018).

Dr. Diane Dechief designs and teaches science communication and digital writing courses at the McGill Writing Centre. In 2019, she received a student-nominated Distinguished Teaching Award from her faculty. In 2014, at the University of Toronto’s iSchool, she completed her dissertation on personal names as the juncture of power, language, and identity in Canada’s shifting cultural landscape. Dr. Dechief’s current research focuses on science communication, equity, and names. (On that final note, Dechief is pronounced de-CHEF.)

Installation Technician: Ryan Ferko