T R O N G  G I A  N G U Y E N




The Leavers
2014–, oil pastel on canvas
78 x 30 x 1-1/2 inches

Inspired by Nguyen's documentary film project about his family, these colorful and playful paintings belie a deep reflection on history, culture, and the psyche of those uprooted and transplanted to foreign lands. Sourced from old family photographs, the paintings depict coloring book images that have been filled in but with the black outlines removed, suggesting the skewed ways in which we remember, shape, and colorize the past. Nguyen asks of the viewer to mentally redraw the missing lines, to give definition to this fuzz. Employing oil pastels, a medium that never fully dries, The Leavers reiterates how memory is organic and ever shifting.


The Doors
2013–, wood doors
Variable dimensions

These interactive doors depict traumatic images of hanged individuals, sourced from historical lynching photographs, films, and the imagined final moments of individuals like Aaron Schwartz to Michael Hutchence.


Win Win
2013, Acrylic paint, wood, mirror, vinyl
84 x 60 x 54 inches

Each table color unique.



Portable Confessionals
2012, Handcut paper grocery bags
17 x 12 x 7 inches


St. Sebastian (various versions)
2012-13, Cork, wood, aluminum wire, acrylic paint
Variable dimensions


Works (1996-2011)
2012, Paperback book, 310 pages, varying editions and unique copies 8-1/4 x 5-3/4 x 3/4 inches

A "paperback retrospective" and surrogate monograph rolled into one. The book contains standard formatted captions of every work made over the last 15 years, with handy crop marks for the exhibition venue.


Holding Off the Second Coming
2011, Ice, freezer, the holy spirit
23 x 23 x 23 inches

An empty, negative void in the form of a dove is carved inside a block of ice. Suspended animation.


2007–, Rice kernels, ink, mylar
Each 5 x 3-1/2 x 1/4 inches

The entire text and individual chapters of various books written word for word on grains of rice. A re-interpretation of the library.


Iron Man
2011, Linen, oil paint, burn, antique wood ironing board 48 x 11-1/2 inches


Orphic Rug
2011, Acrylic and oil paint
66 x 33-1/2 inches

Made completely from paint, including the knots and fringes, this trompe-l'eoil painting is a magic carpet in the tradition of Orpheus and the Arabian Nights.


Here Comes the Sun
2011, Wall-embedded LED light fixture, acrylic paint 102 x 84 inches (Variable dimensions)


LOL (Lady of the Lake)
2011, Silicone, toy lightsaber, black plexi
24 inches tall (puddles variable)


Humanitarians Not Heroes
2002–, Ongoing mixed media project

Humanitarians Not Heroes is Trong G. Nguyen's "artist-as-company" project, initiated in 2002. Established under the umbrella of a legitimate business, HNH markets one type of product a year intended for wide consumption and distribution. The project occupies traditional and novel retail spaces to sell and disseminate concepts that intersect art, fashion, design, and socio-politics. Examining the valuation of objects whose complex functions follow simple form, HNH's mission operates at the perimeters where art and capitalism converge.

Grrrilla Girls Gone Wild
2011, VHS video edition – each tape recorded from the previous with deteriorating quality
53 seconds

Artists Commercials
2009-, HD video
Varying durations

These are short spots of artists in their studios promoting themselves like real commercials, except that they deliver irreverent and sarcastic monologues that I write. Toeing the line between truth and fiction, they act as a critique on the economy, art market, gallery system, identity and socio-political issues, etc.

Signature Series
2003–, Altered found paintings, black light
Dimensions variable

These paintings contend with issues of attribution, collaboration, authorship, and collection. They are all either bought or found accomplished paintings that importantly, contain a signature on the recto. Subsequently, they have all been altered in one of three ways...


The Diabolical
2001–, Installation of impasto acrylic on canvas paintings colored exactly the same as walls
Dimensions and arrangement variable

Each monochromatic painting is a variation of the "crime lines" one sees at police stations, used to mark the physical height of suspects. The canvases are renderred in impasto and painted whatever wall color they hang on, or vice-versa. Together, they envelope the viewer inside an "incriminating" space that subtly forces him into a position where the "gaze" is negated and swiveled in favor of the work itself. Lacking this traditional control, the viewer is thereby placed under the installation's watchful scrutiny, and looking becomes an act of paranoia, self-incrimination, guilt, and indecency.

The Once and Future...
2008, Acrylic paint, styrofoam, foil, wood, and custom designed sword (etched steel, leather, bronze)
42 x 42 x 42 inches

A three-tiered cake decorated with acrylic paint frosting and flowers, into which a sword has been plunged. Referencing a Messiah complex and the mythologizing of the "chosen one," from King Arthur to Sir John Dee...


Colección Whitney
2009, wood and metal
59 x 68 x 22-1/2 inches

Colección Whitney is a stocks device that invokes both the medieval torture implement as well as current financial market of “stocks and bonds.” Cruelty and torture, as regressive as such traits may seem in such a 'humane' and technologically advanced world, is alive and well. ‘Colección’ pertains to both the art world and IRS, i.e. tax and collections.


On and On
2010-11, Infinity mirror made from plexi mirrors and glass, electroluminescent wire, wood frames
30 inches diameter each


2010-, Archival inkjet prints
41 x 28 inches each

The facades of museums have recently been decked out with trendy advertisement art, from Philippe Parreno’s poetic marquee at the Guggenheim to Udo Rondinone’s insipid “HELL YES” at the New Museum. Museos comprises “historical images” that challenge the supposed radicality of our most cutting edge institutions.


Gallery Trucker Hats
2010-, Custom caps and hats
One size fits all, each unique

Ever noticed how dull and design-challenged the majority of gallery logos are? High art doesn’t pretend to be anything other than its white trash kin in these one-of-a-kind trucker hats, paying tribute to galleries (the good, the bad, and the ugly) across the world.



Marcel Duchamp Vs Bobby Fischer
2008, Performance and video projection on trapezoidal pedestals

Two individuals play a friendly game of chess - best two out of three - while channeling the spirits of masters Marcel Duchamp and Bobby Fischer. The first two matches took place in New York City and the third at Dwarf Gallery/Sequences Real Time Festival in Reykjavik, Iceland, site of Fischer's 1973 World Chess Championship victory.


Neo-Theo (Possessed American Flag)
2004-10, Creased cotton flags (various versions), audio, framed photographs
Varying dimensions

Neo-Theo (Possessed American Flag) considers the legal cornerstone of religious tolerance and separation of church and state as originally imported to America via the Dutch settlement on Governors Island in 1624. An American flag with the words “help me” (a reference to the horror film “The Exorcist”) hangs on the wall, surrounded by photographs of gesturing hands that hark back to both stiff fascism and the original salutation for the “Pledge of Allegiance,” as written and prescribed by Francis Bellamy in 1892. A soundtrack plays of children reciting Bellamy’s original words, which did not include “under God” (added only in 1954).

2005–, Custom cakes with frosting decorations made of oil and acrylic paint
Dimensions variable

These cakes serve the purpose of celebrating inappropriate things.

Dindin Calling Tintin
2010, Acrylic paint, white vinyl records (Bauhaus + 3 death metal), spinning motors, electric candle, wood table
Table 42” diameter

Dindin Calling Tintin is an absurd séance mediated through four “record plates” of spaghetti made from acrylic paint, done up in “solarized” colors. Each record sits on its own portable spinning motor, and an electric candle sits in the center of the table. The noodles spell out texts that summon the spirit of the Belgian cartoon character.


Notes from the Invisible Box of Valery Osser
2008, 754-page hardbound book with one gilded chapter, each with a unique cover
9 x 6 x 2-1/2 inches

Written by Nguyen, Notes from the Invisible Box of Valery Osser is a "lost chapter" to The Da Vinci Code. Narrated from the perspective of Marcel Duchamp's diary entries, Nguyen’s text inserts the artist in the role of Priory of Sion grandmaster... The entire Dan Brown novel was reprinted with the page numbers, titles, and authorship removed, and Nguyen's brief text added after Chapter 79.

Last Supper at CERN
2009, Raw canvas, wood table, turntables, vintage gospel records, acrylic paint
38 x 300 x 36 inches

Last Supper at CERN is an irreverent spaghetti dinner set on records and turntables. The work remixes Leonardo's masterpiece as a cacophonous deejay battle between science and religion, whereby pasta and tomato sauce, served on gospel lp's, spell out text messages on black vinyl "thought bubbles." As Leonardo's image depicts the climactic moment after Christ announces "one of you shall betray me," so too does Nguyen's pasta-fest signify the inevitable, momentous discovery of the Higgs boson. Instead of messiahs and disciples, the participants here are scientists at the Large Hadron Collider reacting to the discovery of the "god particle."

Vai tas ir kosers? (Latvian for "Is it kosher?")
2009, classic Vietnamese 33 record, acrylic paint, styrofoam, record player
6 x 13 x 13 inches

This work is a companion piece to Last Supper in Babel (below).

Last Supper in Babel
2009, twelve ceramic plates, acrylic paint, styrofoam, wood table Installation at Galerie Quynh

Last Supper in Babel is an imagined spaghetti dinner between Christ and his disciples in the town where God confused the languages of its infamous tower's builders. Written out in pasta, a whimsical conversion in twelve languages ensues between the twelve followers, who are waiting for the Messiah. As men do when left together, they gab about the usual - women, sports, and alcohol.

The Glorified Docent
2009, Mixed media performance with rear projected films and guest critics, EFA Project Space

The Glorified Docent was an evening of screenings of bootlegged art films (including Matthew Barney, Paper Rad, Shirin Neshat, etc.), with live commentary from guest "critics," based on the structure of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K), the American cult television comedy series that aired from 1988 to 1999.

Stolnar Stundir
October 21, 2006, Reykjavik, Mixed media

For the Sequences: Real Time Festival, Nguyen buried a work titled Time Capsule of Appropriated Objects (to be Opened at Time's End) at an undisclosed location in Iceland. Upon the artist’s demise, the work’s GPS coordinates shall be given to an inheritor who will in turn pass it on, and on. Never to be un-earthed. The burial was videoed and broadcasted live to Safn Foundation, where the band Seabear played an improvised score to accompany Nguyen’s mission. As the tricky title indicates, every item inside this time capsule is stolen!

Floor Plans
1998–, Cut grass
Dimensions and arrangement variable

Floor Plans creates "charged" spaces that have a history of trauma, anxiety, and tragicomedy. The freshly cut, welcoming soft grass belies a deeper conflict. By simply walking on it, viewers are renderd "complicit" to these conflicts and "play out the event," whether that be a re-enactment of a Sartre drama, "imprisonment" in the quarters of a Gitmo cell, or contemplating "Sylvia Plath's Kitchen."

What You Get Is What You See
2008, UV plexiglas blinds
63 x 39 x 2 inches (variable according to space)

This work looks at the notion of preservation, whereby the technology to protect works of art playfully becomes the work itself.

Days of the Week Paintings
2008, 7 silkscreen paintings nested behind one another and diminishing in scale
Variable dimensions (largest 68 x 68 x 5 inches)

A take on the Annunciation scene, where religion meets Nirvana (the band)

All You Need Is Love
2006-2007, Mixed-media performance with Dance Gang + Elana Rubinfeld + Jeremy Linzee + Friends

AYNIL is a real-time dating game inspired by the original Dating Game tv show, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, and Marcel Duchamp. Each performance of AYNIL uniquely explores the dating customs and mores of its host city. Taking place simultaneously in two spaces connected by a video feed and IM, the event is structured over the course of a dinner. Intentionally complicating matters by communicating in many modes, artists and audience work to uncross the stars, and ultimately, make a love connection.

Ready Set Sail
2007, mixed-media performance with Dance Gang + Jeremy Linzee September 14 and 15, Superbien, Berlin, Germany
40 minutes

Ready Set Sail is a mixed-media performance that took place in Berlin at the Superbien Greenhouse for Contemporary Art in September 2007. Mobilizing the space: as departure point, lighthouse, vessel, beacon, biosphere, and site for "collection." Channeling the author Alain de Botton (The Art of Travel) and explorers such as Alexander von Humboldt, Hannibal, and Ulysses, Ready Set Sail incorporated dance, music, and interactive performance to investigate the phenomena of locomotion and discovery.

Girls of the Third Situ8ionist International Summit
2007, Installation and audio feed

As part of the 2007 Conflux Festival in Brooklyn, Nguyen organized on September 16 at NGC Gallery the G3SIS, a closed-door meeting of eight women artists and curators who had been invited and challenged to solve all the world's major economic, socio-political, and environmental problems in one day. No public witnessed the event in New York. However, the summit in its entirety, and the group’s findings, was broadcasted as a radio transmission to Super Bien! in Berlin. Nguyen transformed the greenhouse into a simple 1940s living room where viewers could simply come in, sit down, and travel back in time with technology by listening to what sounded like a radio show from the 1940s, a la Orson Welles.

Clock Radio
2007, Vintage radio with wireless broadcast from an iPod

The station on this radio is tuned to the sounds of three persons each speaking accurately the day’s seconds, minutes, and hours, respectively. Each version of this work contains a set of different voices. For this version, the participants are curator Christina Irrgang and artists Elin Hansdottir and Darri Lorenzen.

Sonic Godiva
November 19, 2005, Mixed media performance and installation
New York, NY

Sonic Godiva was the second in a series of "blockbuster concerts" broadcasted from an empty space, with speakers directed out the windows. Passerby on the street could hear but not come in. Obscure Sonic Godiva posters were placed all over the city to promote. Summer Lawns, one of the live bands, covered the Grant Lee Buffalo standard Lady Godiva and Me, which in turned cued a simultaneous re-enactment of Lady Godiva's 11th century nude horseback ride through the streets of Coventry. In this case, it was Greene Street in Soho on a busy Saturday afternoon.The public got their chance to play the role of Peeping Tom.

Sonic Berlin
2007, mixed media performance and installation September 17 and 18
Superbien Greenhouse for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany

Like its precursors Sonic Godiva (New York CIty) and Sonic Peekskill, SONIC BERLIN was a site-specific “blockbuster concert” that incorporated both live bands and recorded music inside the Superbien greenhouse. Covered with one-way mirror glass, the musicians are able to see out at the viewers but not vice-versa, thus imparting a feeling of dissatisfaction and negation to the experience. The greenhouse acted as a public jam space for musicians, who were invited to come play a set as they pleased.

Sonic Peekskill: Red Curtain Music Fest
2004, Mixed media installation
Peekskill, NY

Sonic Peekskill was a fictitious blockbuster concert broadcasted through an i-Pod inside a second floor apartment located in the center of Peekskill. Headlined by Paul Robeson, the artists were a “dream line-up” that included extant and defunct bands, living and deceased musicians. The work was a tribute to Robeson, the singer and civil rights activist who in 1949 gave a concert in Peekskill on behalf of the African-American and Jewish trade unionists and pacifists that was subsequently marred by rioters and racists. Created to posthumously rectify that occasion, passerby could hear the concert from street level, though access to the space was denied.

Messages from Guantanamo
December 3, 2005, Installation of 200 glass and plastic bottles
Miami, Florida

200 bottles sent from Guantanamo Bay washed ashore on South Beach in front of the Cavalier Hotel. The glass and plastic bottles contained SOS notes, photographs, leaflets, and objects set adrift by "enemy combatants" incarcerated at Gitmo since 2002 by the United States government with intent to evade jurisdiction of both domestic and international law. After three years, at the time of this performance, many of the remaining 500 inmates still had not been charged with any crime. Messages from Guantanamo gave voice to those who did not even have an identity.

Art Hijack

Comprised of Trong G. Nguyen and Elana Rubinfeld, Art Hijack is an art collective that seeks out alternative modes of producing art exhibitions, often through direct engagement and investigation of roles commonly segregated in the art world - artist, dealer, curator, critic, and collector.

The Art Collection of Rick Haatj
2004, Mixed media installation

The Collection of Rick Haatj is a body of forged works by Art Hijack that are currently stolen or missing. The project was presented as a social event in the penthouse of the Roger Smith Hotel, where selected viewers were introduced to Mr. Haatj's (whose name is an anagram of Art Hijack) prestigious collection without any knowledge of Art Hijack's interventions.

Miscellaneous Interventions
2001–, Mixed media
Variable dimensions

Altered works that at one point or another have come through the collection of the artist.

TGN 2001
2001, Ebay yearlong performance project

From January 1 to December 31, 2001, Nguyen produced a complete INVENTORY of everything in his Brooklyn studio/apartment using Ebay as the mechanism, thus playing all the roles on the website that normally exist in the art world (artist, curator, auctioneer, etc.). Every object was photographed and described similarly to condition reports at museums. In addition, Nguyen subversively embedded additional projects within the project, including selling "conceptual objects" (such as "Nothingnesss") and incorporating a "live photo album" that involved the artist shooting an image each day and auctioning it on Ebay that same evening.

Sighing Reveille
1998, Installation of four 'curtain/flags' made of wood dowels, wallpaper (Lybia), plastic wrap (Romania), laser copies (Russia), acrylic paint (South Africa)
Arragement variable
Each 8 x 12 feet

"No Exit" sign referencing the Jean-Paul Sartre play of the same name
1998, Metal and light


© Trong G. Nguyen