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The Cuckoo's Nest, pigment print, 67″x24″, 2012

Alison Nguyen

Title & Date: The Cuckoo’s Nest (2012)
Material: Archival pigment print
Dimensions: 18" x 54"
Edition: 3 of 3

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"The Cuckoo’s Nest" by Alison Nguyen

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"The Cuckoo’s Nest" is from Alison Nguyen’s body of photographic work “Irreversible Damage” recently shown as a site-specific installation at The Oracle Club in Long Island City. Created with deceptively simple plastic “toy” cameras, Nguyen ignored the frames of the classic 120 film and instead treated the negative as an entire image.

Blending elements of portraiture, narrative photography, and documentation, Nguyen worked with subjects to create fictional personas and collaborated with them in creating loose narratives. Her in-camera multiply exposed images reveal overlapping scenes; flickers; faces, shadows, and shades of color which merge in and out of abstraction. Stories are slippery and change depending on point of view and where you stand in relation to the large, scroll-like prints.

Cultural critic Brian Miller writes, “The clock is an unreliable narrator. In Alison Nguyen’s multilayered narratives, it guides us to memories we’ve forgotten we ever had, to wonder wheels and wristwatches, to plates of unfinished breakfast and plaster saints, to luminous spaces somewhere outside of the demesnes of time. Like silent filmstrips loosed from the reel, Nguyen’s photographs dare us to form a story. But this plot we’ve been given is unmapped terrain; it is where the fiction slips away from the reality, where past cleaves from present to future…”

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Category: Photograph

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Description: The Cuckoo’s Nest is from Alison Nguyen’s body of photographic work “Irreversible Damage” recently shown as a site-specific installation at The Oracle Club in Long Island City. Created with deceptively simple plastic “toy” cameras, Nguyen ignored the frames of the classic 120 film and instead treated the negative as an entire image.

Blending elements of portraiture, narrative photography, and documentation, Nguyen worked with subjects to create fictional personas and collaborated with them in creating loose narratives. Her in-camera multiply exposed images reveal overlapping scenes; flickers; faces, shadows, and shades of color which merge in and out of abstraction. Stories are slippery and change depending on point of view and where you stand in relation to the large, scroll-like prints.

Cultural critic Brian Miller writes, “The clock is an unreliable narrator. In Alison Nguyen’s multilayered narratives, it guides us to memories we’ve forgotten we ever had, to wonder wheels and wristwatches, to plates of unfinished breakfast and plaster saints, to luminous spaces somewhere outside of the demesnes of time. Like silent filmstrips loosed from the reel, Nguyen’s photographs dare us to form a story. But this plot we’ve been given is unmapped terrain; it is where the fiction slips away from the reality, where past cleaves from present to future…”

Artist Biography:Alison Nguyen is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice centers on the conceptual relays between photography, text, and performance art. She uses tangible and temporal materials such as film, hand-built cameras, and alternative photographic processes to raise more abstract questions about time, memory, and fiction.

Nguyen graduated from Brown University in 2009 with a B.A. in Literary Arts. Since then, she has exhibited widely at both non-traditional and traditional venues. Nguyen has received awards and residencies from Mensa, Nikon, The Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, Brown University, The New Mexico School of Poetics, and a fellowship through New York Community Trust for her Flux Factory residency in 2011 – 12. Image publications include: The New York Times, La Petite Zine and O.H.W.OW. Gallery Press’ forthcoming book Random Attitudes. Nguyen’s writing has been featured in publications such as Art & Revelry, The New York Times, Juxtapoz online, The Center for Alternative Photography’s Journal, and the Journal of New Jersey Poets.

Nguyen is based in Brooklyn where she combines her practice with art direction and graphic design. She is involved with teaching workshops at the International Center of Photography and the Center for Alternative Photography.