Artwork title: PORCELAIN MEDALS (Edition 5/5 ) 140 porcelain medals for each edition.
Material: porcelain hand painted
Year: 2018 Artist: Bui Cong Khanh
“…Khanh’s porcelain medals, like his vases, were produced in the ancient kiln village Bat Trang, outside Hanoi. Made in a large series of several hundred, they are the artist’s playful but deeply serious meditation on the self-serving, propagandist aspect of official reward. Khanh’s medals are fictional hybrids of American, North and South Vietnamese, French, Russian, and Chinese military insignias. In their exaggerated volume and whimsical decoration, they counter real medals’ preciousness and association with a specific feat or sacrifice. Designing 7 distinct medal moulds, Khanh manufactured hundreds of biscuit porcelain medals which he then hand-painted and gilded such that most are individualised—single-colour ones are the only repetitions. Individually, the porcelain medals are jewel-like: delicate press-moulded relief details, lustrously glass-glazed, finely painted, and lusciously coloured to present an aesthetically-pleasing whole. Khanh leaves the medals’ installation and display open, underscoring their critical strength based on concept, whatever their presentation. This curator, opting to mound them in their hundreds like common pebbles, played-up volume to underline the mass fabrication (or cheapening) of reward that is supposed to be as individual and precious as the sacrifice recompensed. Porcelain Medals’ bijoux aesthetic and fragile porcelain also translate them as faux medals, such faux further undermining the certainty of the validity of war. In their distortion through artistic means, medals are shown as tools of power, operating to camouflage the disconnect between soldiers-as-cogs in a vast war machine serving abstract nationalist interests, and human risk, possibly ending in death.
By producing pretty medals from fragile porcelain—prettiness and delicacy the opposite of war— Khanh creates disconnect and tension f battle bravery and sacrifice creat call into question personal agency to consider reasons for social behavior beyond state directives.”
( Excerpts from Iola Lenzi’s article for the solo exhibition of Bui Cong Khanh artist “Porcelain Medals and Jackfruit-wood Grenades” at 10Chancery Lance Gallery, 2018)
This work has been exhibited:
-2018 Porcelain Medals and Jackfruit Grenades -The American War in Vietnam examined through the art of Bui Cong Khanh, Curated by Iola Lenzi, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong
-2019 ” Concept, context & contestation” contemporary SEA art exhibition opening at Secretariat Building, Yangon, Myanmar.
-2020 “ Stealing Public Space” at The Substation, Singapore. -2021 “Impresion Unearth” at SanArt Gallery, Sai Gon, Viet Nam.