Artist talk transcript
Hello. I’m Lann Le.
Right now I’m in the Fine Arts Gallery of Georgia Southern University, Savannah, Georgia. It’s currently hosting Good Without within a group exhibition Meraki.
I am 22 years old, with this age and experience, I have nothing much to say. Because of that, more questions pop up in my mind and I enjoy exploring answers. This installation is a sharing of that experience, of asking the question what can we live without and the generous answers I received in the form of these objects and photographs of items presented here in the gallery.
Why that question? In March, the states were pretty much shutting down businesses and operation, going into storm mode for Covid19 pandemic. Stocking up necessities, things for first aid, entertainment, house, garden maintenance. We had a gush of shopping. I shopped, mostly everyone shopped. The daily norm is all of a sudden disturbed. What interesting is besides more packages delivered and curbside pickup, many more items were discarded to trash and donation centers. The crazy amount and the frequency of these activities brought me back to the old question what can we live without. And thanks to Ms. Bridget Conn, the question is pursued in an art form, which to me has a special power to explore the breadth and depth of things uncategorizable by other fields.
Why must Good Without be a public engagement work? Because it is a question. A question itself is very interactive. A question doesn’t end in a sentence. It desires and opens up to more observations and even more questions. This question takes me to places. Sharing the question is sharing the starting point. It will take each person to their very personal experience and relationship. Instead of waiting the for the moment “you know this painting makes me question…” what a chance. Let me ask the question directly, I have more intimate relationship with others that way. And these answers are so raw, so real, so genuine, so diverse that only come from different individuals, not from one artist constructing his or her own answer.
The website, Instagram page, flyers, posters, door to door,… these are just methods suitable to reach individuals near and afar, and to share as much as possible the experience online since not too many can physically visit the installation, or able to physically participate in the process.
I started Good Without in August 2020 at one point and ended up at completely different point, a different person. These ideas and things people share with me in response to the question through photographs, writings, discussions, objects, they teach me way more than I can ever discover by myself. Because of that I am very happy with this work, very happy to share the experience, and very very thankful for all the generous sharing and support I received.
Recently I learned that things not only take up physical, but mental space, and not just financial, but time. Those are valuable and limited resources. If I have to spend five hours just to clean a four thousand square foot floor in resentment and irritation, maybe, just maybe the floor is a bit too big for my resources, or some other issues occur. And if I’m with someone, surely those five hours of irritation would somewhat reflect on that person. Once I allow something into my life, it impacts me personally and my relationship with others around me.
Another big issue flashes up when I was stocking up essentials for quarantine is food. The amount of food we have, the type of food we have, and the hungry people we have. The rich are hungry. The poor are hungry. The rich are sick. The poor are also sick. How come? But none of them is my business, right? My body matters more to me than anyone else’s. So let’s just look to the impact of what I take in versus my body. How does my body feel when taking in these things considered “food”? Now? Thirty minutes later? Five hours later? A day?
If we hold on the thought of helping others and saving the planet for a second, the things we take into our body and life make a massive impact on us personally before putting a dent in the world. What can I live without? Will my body and mind be even better without them? And…and what if the relationship between the impact they have on us vs on others and the environment are not opposite but similar. Then what? I think the question opens up many more questions.