Re-wild is the first of a series of unanswered letters addressed to various institutions entangled in the use of napalm in Vietnam during the American War. Addressed to the Forestry Department, this letter presents a fragment of the Forest Curriculum’s (here in collaboration with artist Sung Tieu) research into the re-wilding of the forests in Bach Ma in Central Vietnam. Napalm haunts this text, like a spirit whose name cannot be spoken, in keeping with the secrecy around research into it, and the reluctance of the Vietnamese government to allow research and investigation into its material traces – out of a fear of the potential of official narratives becoming challenged. Facing this enforced stillness, the text takes off from Tieu’s film Memory Dispute (2017), which combines footage from Bach Ma with that from skin whitening clinics who use toxic substances, to engage with the question of surfaces, and materiality. Central to this is an investigation of rewilding as a passage and movement in time, an enfolding of matter as it leaves its traces in the forests.
Image - From Sung Tieu's personal collection.
in Xenia Benivolski and Ala Roushan (eds). Shape Shift. Sugar. Toronto. 2019.