Multi-media Artist, Truong Tran, Uses Pornographic Images in His Work
The subtlest detail in art can alter one’s perception of the entire piece. For artist Truong Tran’s latest multi-media collection, the detail is in his use of pornographic images. By juxtaposing these image cut-outs with an otherwise highly innocent concept, Tran uses his art to communicate the real meaning of pornography.
Opening in San Francisco, Tran’s exhibition, “I Meant to Say, Please Pass the Sugar…,” features pieces with large images of vintage paper dolls, landscapes, and other iconic images of simple youth. From a distance, the additional butterfly-shaped cut-outs appear to enhance the pureness of the pieces, drawing on the understated beauty of nature, but upon closer examination, everything changes.
The visual volta in his work stems from the incorporation of taboo images taken from pornographic magazines. Tran has explored using these clippings, given to him by a friend, in other aspects of his work, but found them integral to his latest project. By contrasting the innocent backdrops with photographs of men’s naked torsos and suggestive poses, the artist questions what should be considered obscene.
“The word ‘pornography’ is such a loaded term. It is often invoked to frame what is obscene, inappropriate or what others deem is appropriate in society,” he said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “I’d much rather apply such a word to the real obscenities of our time. Politics, homophobia, and the violence born of these constructs are the real obscenities in my life. There lies the real pornography.”
In addition to this powerful message, these images recall a period of self-discovery. The transition from child to adult and sexual exploration have inspired works in all media. In particular this exhibition seems reminiscent May Swenson’s poem, The Centaur. By reliving a moment of a young girl riding a stick horse, Swenson communicates the idea of the first sexual discovery. Similar to this multi-media collection, there is the stark contrast between innocence and the obscene.
Looking at Tran’s work from any angle, it’s the use of the adult magazine images that come to define this exhibition. His strategic use of the photographs is what inspires the conversation, and that is exactly his intention.