Tiffany Chung is globally noted for her interdisciplinary and research-based practice, with hand-drawn and embroidered cartographic works and installations consisting of paintings, photographs, sculptures, and videos. Her visually striking and meticulously detailed map drawings are described by art historian Benjamin Buchloh as “deceptively saccharine-colored, flowery ornaments reveal, on closer inspection, precise cartographic functions […] pressing the epistemes of cartography and the diagram into service of the most productive project drawing could currently attempt.” Chung’s artistic praxis reflects her intellectual inquiries into a complex framework of social, political, economic and environmental processes, at times entwined in landscape archaeology and historical ecology. Cultivated through archival and field research into specific locales, her projects excavate layers of history to unpack conflict, geopolitical partitioning, spatial transformation, environmental disaster, forced displacement and migration, across time and terrain. Chung’s work strives to create interventions into the narrative produced through statecraft or is dominant in the public sphere, with people’s histories and memories. Her upcoming immersive sonic and visual works navigate the media-saturated images of places known as ‘conflict zones’ to remember and reimagine the landscapes, cultures, and peoples–with their agency, dreams, and hopes–beneath ruined cities and fractured countries.
Chung’s solo exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Tiffany Chung: Vietnam, Past Is Prologue (2019), is her most ambitious exploration of the war in Vietnam and its aftermath to date – with an approach that mirrors the multiplicity of her subject, subsuming her own voice to those of others and tackling her theme from various perspectives. For Remapping History: an autopsy of a battle, an excavation of a man’s past (2015/2019), Chung diagrams her father’s story with 13 handmade maps, archival materials, photographs and texts; the 21 interviews also on view record conversations with Vietnamese men and women who arrived in the United States in the war’s wake. Together they represent a history that has never become part of the American view of the conflict, and that is being forgotten, if not deliberately erased, in Vietnam itself.
The first iteration of Chung’s Syria Project was featured in the 56th Venice Biennale’s central exhibition All the World’s Futures at the Arsenale, with 40 map-based drawings that chart Syria’s ever expanding cycles of violence and refugee displacement — which was described as one of the personal but highly political highlights from the 2015 Venice Biennale.
Most recently, Chung has created major artworks such as USM GLOBAL (2022-2023) commissioned by PAFA, a delicately textured piece associated with Studying for USM GLOBAL, Chung’s online archive of her research in mapping the U.S. military global footprint and spotlighting regions including countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan in Southwest & Central Asia, as well as Okinawa, Japan in the Asia Pacific. Another ambitious series is Terra Rouge: circles, traces of time, rebellious solitude, inspecting the terra rouge plateau of Bình Long–Phước Long in three distinct periods, depicting Neolithic circular earthworks (CEW) dated between 2300-300 B.C.; an extensive network of rubber plantations established in 1897 by French colonialists; and abandoned airfields that Chung’s father frequented as a South Vietnamese helicopter pilot during wartime. Chung contends that revisiting Neolithic circular earthworks might lead us to imagine a different possibility—a hypothetical trajectory in which earthwork groups had never been incorporated into a new socioeconomic and political polity, but instead chosen to remain in what the artist calls “rebellious solitude.”
Chung has exhibited at museums and biennials worldwide including the Museum of Modern Art (NY), British Museum (UK), Louisiana MoMA (Denmark), Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt (Germany), Nobel Peace Center (Norway), Sharjah Biennale (UAE), Biennial de Cuenca (Ecuador), Sydney Biennale (Australia), Statens Museum for Kunst (Denmark), EVA International–Ireland’s Biennial, Centre de Cultura Conteporània de Barcelona (Spain), 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa (Japan), among other venues. Public collections include Smithsonian American Art Museum, British Museum, Louisiana MoMA, SFMoMA, Minneapolis Institute of Art, M+ Museum, Queensland Art Gallery, Singapore Art Museum and others.
Tiffany Chung is a Mellon Arts & Practitioner Fellow at RITM, Yale University (2021). She was a finalist for the Vera List Center Prize and named Jane Lombard Fellow for Art & Social Justice (2018-2020). Chung has been a recipient of other awards, including Asia Arts Game Changer Award India by Asia Society (2020); Asian Cultural Council Grant (2015); Sharjah Biennial Artist Prize for Exceptional Contribution (2013). She is a co-founder of Sàn Art, an independent art space in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Chung holds an MFA from University of California, Santa Barbara (2000) and a BFA from California State University, Long Beach (1998).