The Substation/ Phuong Ngo/ A World Vision/
A World Vision (2022), recontextualises the Gabriel Veyre film entitled Enfants annamites ramassant des sapèques devant la pagode des dames (1889), to comment on contemporary issues of imperialism, charity, and aid.
Borrowing its name from evangelical Christian aid organisation, World Vision International, the work aims to challenge acts of charity and aid, suggesting their deep connection to colonial and imperial practices. A slowed down version of Veyre’s film is paired with the song Feed the Birds from Disney’s 1964 classic Mary Poppins. The work relies on cinematic nostalgia to draw the viewer into an uncomfortable, yet familiar place.
In paring these two elements A World Vision seeks to alter the reading of Veyre’s film, making what was already an uncomfortable visual even more uncomfortable by layering it with the orchestral drama of Feed the Birds. The added nuance offered by slowing down the footage to half the speed, further alters the original film holding the viewers gaze on the actions of these women, while returning some agency to the unnamed ‘natives’, who are now identifiable as people and not pigeons scurrying for crumbs.
The work draws attention to the obvious racial nature of colonialism and weds it to contemporary philanthropic practices and that are rooted in Christianity and capitalism. The collaging of sound and image is designed to create an unsettling contrast that relies on the viewers nostalgia. By creating an uncomfortable experience for the audience, the work asks of them to question their own history of charity and charitable habits, recontextualising the imperialist nature of non-for-profits who operate in the global south.
Presented by The Substation in association with Photo 2022.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body, and is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.