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Refugee Memorial Project Runs Diameter of Earth at ASU Art Museum
Breathing is Free: 12,756.3 - Taipei, 84km. Photo credit: Wu Chi-Yu.

TEMPE, AZ.- ASU Art Museum presents the U.S. premiere of a personal and moving project by internationally-exhibited artist Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba titled Breathing Is Free: 12,756.3; New Work by Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba.

Breathing is Free: 12,756.3; New Work by Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba is conceived as part installation, part exhibition and part memorial. Known for his underwater films which have been shown in Bienniales and museums around the world, Nguyen-Hatsushiba’s new work represents a departure as it is based on on-going projects in which the artist plans to run 12,756.36 kilometers, or, the diameter of the earth, in different international cities at different times. His installation in ASU Art Museum will begin January 24, 2009, with the artist's exhibition run in Phoenix scheduled for Spring 2009.

Breathing is Free: 12,756.3; New Work by Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba focuses on breadth of formats, allowing for deeper exploration of the artist’s continuing concern with the evolution of cultures in the face of globalization and interpretations in the idea of “memorial”. According to Nguyen-Hatsushiba, “The running is really about breathing. Drawing breath becomes more difficult as one runs further as one’s entire body begins to wear out….But what counts here is to record my ‘running struggle’ to discuss the refugee topic through distance and location via GPS watch. It’s conceptual and physical; it’s a real struggle, not a performance” (as quoted in Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba, published by Museum of Art Lucerne and Manchester Art Gallery).

In the past, a film series of underwater Memorial Projects kept Nguyen-Hatsushiba, who was raised in the U.S. but lives in Ho Chi Minh City, behind the camera. The new project places the artist as the subject, running to create a memorial project for refugees. He wants to physically experience the distance of the earth and struggle like refugees on the run from their homeland. Nguyen-Hatsushiba’s run in Phoenix reflects the fact that Phoenix is a major destination for refugees from around the world. In running, the artist reenacts the unpredictability of the refugee’s flight as he traverses the landscape for the first time, even though in his mind and on paper he has drawn the lines of the itinerary. The physical sensation of running, of cutting through the landscape with his body, brings him closer to the earth and the struggles associated with significantly changing one’s environment.

The exhibition, an evolving project that is planned to include two major video works, begins with sketching a diagram of the run on satellite photos and maps and is then actuated, recorded to GPS, filmed and photographed. It is then transformed into a form of drawing using the lines that the artist has made through his running. His video work The Ground, the Root, and the Air, which is comprised of three chapters that are merged into one film, is filled with charged locations and activities reflecting the cultural negotiations between tradition and youth of the city of Luang Prabang, Laos.

As part of our mission as a university museum, ASU Art Museum is committed to showing artists' work first and is proud to offer artists the opportunity to grow creatively and experiment with new forms. The U.S. premiere of Breathing is Free: 12,756.3; New Work by Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba is co-curated by Heather Sealy Lineberry, Senior Curator and Interim Director at the ASU Art Museum, and Dr. Nora Taylor, Alsdorf Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The ASU Art Museum presentation is generously supported by the Evelyn Smith Exhibition Fund, Howard and Donna Stone, the ASU Art Museum Advisory Board, Diane Harrison and Sherman Axel, MD, and Friends of the ASU Art Museum. In-kind support provided by TownePlace Suites by Marriott in Tempe, LaBocca Urban Pizzeria and Wine Bar in downtown Tempe and PS Studios, Phoenix.

ASU Art Museum, named "the single most impressive venue for contemporary art in Arizona" by Art in America magazine, is part of the Herberger College of the Arts at Arizona State University. The museum is located on the corner of Mill Avenue and 10th Street in Tempe and admission is free. Nelson Fine Arts Center hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturday, and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. To learn more about the museum and its programs call 480-965-2787 or visit

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