Tiffany Chung is internationally noted for her cartographic drawings and installations that examine conflict, migration, displacement, urban progress, and transformation in relation to history and cultural memory. Conducting intensive studies on the impacts of geographical shifts and imposed political borders on different groups of human populations, Chung’s work excavates layers of history, re-writes chronicles of places, and creates interventions into the spatial and political narratives produced through statecraft. Her ongoing comparative study of forced migration through the current Syrian humanitarian crisis and the post-1975 Vietnamese mass exodus unpacks asylum policies and refugee experiences, providing insights into the constant shifts in international policy making.
Remapping history: an autopsy of a battle, an excavation of a man’s past may be the work most explicitly linked to the artist’s biography, or rather, that of her father, a former helicopter pilot who was captured in Laos and imprisoned in North Vietnam for 14 years. It unpacks two of the most important battles of the Vietnam conflict through her father’s lens and her analysis: the 1971 Operation Lam Sơn 719 and the 1972 Easter Offensive, and provides insights into the effects of warfare and trauma. Her hand-rendered military strategy maps, found audio recordings, and archival photographic fragments relating to his wartime experiences are juxtaposed with journal entries from Chung’s journey across the border to Laos via Route-9. The work analyzes the context of her father’s crash during Operation Lam Sơn 719 and top-down political decisions that changed the fate of families like hers. Videos of Chung driving down two abandoned airstrips, simulating her father’s takeoffs and landings on the same locations, are placed among her photographic investigation of ruined airstrips in the region where the Easter Offensive took place. Her painstaking rendering of these operations’ charts forms the basis for understanding how intelligence analysis is translated into military strategy, with fierce battles resulting in heavy casualties, civilians included.