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2020.05.29 Fri, by
Lê Lan Anh (1993–2020)

by MoT collective

Lê Lan Anh, also known as Lananh Le, one of the most vivid young artists in the Ho Chi Minh City art scene, died on April 19. She had been suffering from depression and it seems this was exacerbated by the social restrictions introduced to control the pandemic. Her last solo show opened in January, just before the Coronavirus lockdown began, at MoT+++ art space in Saigon, the city in which Lan Anh was born and grew up. After graduating Stanford University with a degree in Comparative Studies in 2015, Lan Anh returned to Saigon. Described by friends as passionate, intelligent and sensitive, Lan Anh was also an idealist and participated in social programs for children, women’s rights and the environment activism. Deeply affected by what she had witnessed, she gave up this existence and turned to art.

During the lockdown confinement Lan Anh wrote to  Tran Thanh Ha at MoT+++ reflecting on the exhibition. Ran Dian edited the text which was written in parts from April 6 to 8.

“In Frozen Data, digital paintings eventually evolve into multiple frames of seven animated videos that last for approximately twelve hours… 

Drawing each colorful splinter and fragment was a meticulous, obsessive act of mark-making, depicting each abstract stream of thought in a tangled inner world, a vastness of ephemerality that’s ghostlike. The magnifying glass forms ripples of light that drift through time, contained in one drop of a moment, or forever – a maze full of turns, intertwined, mysterious contradictions, where it is easy to get lost… 

Lê Lan Ahn, Safari 13, 2020, still from animated digital painting video.

Lê Lan Anh, Safari, 2020, still from digital painting

Visions are somewhat deceived by the medium, the magnifying glass slowly moving and zooming into the very tiny microscopic details of the different frames. The magnifying glass in the videos is like the sun and moon, moving across the sky, and eventually around the entire universe, so slowly you can hardly see it moving… Each microscopic detail of skies, leaves, patterns, plants in the supernatural macrocosm of the videos were spurred by the scientific theory that tiny particles, electrons and protons, make up matter in the physical universe. 

Much of the visual content was flowing from my subconscious, reflecting an unruly process of personal myth-making… fishbowl-like simulacrum of an inner world containing fragments of personal memory, hybrid animals, dream imagery, wondrous geometry reflecting a state of mind..”

“This is my new statement for works in frozen data…

Thinking maybe I should accept that this is a work in progress, stick with this honest and brief statement, and just start on new works that have more meaning in it.

“In some ways this frozen data work is very westernized way of thinking, influenced by surrealism… I’m thinking of making work with more structured content, rather than an unruly subconscious. I am reading “Thần, người và đất Việt” (Gods, People and the Vietnamese Land) by Tạ Chí Đại Trường, which talks about cultural changes hidden in the chaotic layers of indigenous myths and spiritual beliefs, specifically historical figures and their roles as spirits in the afterlife… And how in the minds of Vietnamese people, there is always a perception of the existence of the supernatural world.

I’ve been thinking about national identity and how I’ve been more connected to a very Eurocentric influence than my own homeland and it’s frustrating me..”

“Thank you chị ơi! Can’t wait till this corona crisis is over and start to work with the collective. It’s a hard time when everyone is quarantining and there’s so much social distancing and isolation. its hard when people can’t even get around to be united. Recently I still try to get out and see my family from time to time because if I spend so much time alone I go crazy…”

Lê Lan Anh, April 6, 2020


A man led us to the back of the temple, walked us up a few steps to an open room where all walls are covered with shelves piled up with thousands of urns with people’s identity photos on them. A woman from the temple showed us one of the two urns on a table in front of the altar, a small white ceramic lotus shaped urn with a tiny picture of you on it. The temple woman took the roses from us, placed them on top of your urn, and gave us some incense. We stood there, staring at the perception of your remains. Each of us started to process the unbelievable reality. You are gone.

Those have became your last messages to me. Everything was about making better works. It doesn’t matter how much we assured you that your works are great, you were never satisfied with yourself. Indeed, you were far from being satisfied but more obsessed with the possibility of being better, to the perfection that simply doesn’t exist in this world.

What have we all missed here?


Our time with you was so little…

We all failed to make you stay longer with us. Nevertheless, while you start your new journey to explore the unknown, the parallel universe, hopefully as vibrant and magical as in your last works, with different dimensions of time which could unleash all our regrets, your Frozen Data will keep melting into this world, into our collective memory, will live on with us and continue to experience our notion of time on this beautiful planet.

– Lê Lan Anh (1993 – 19 April 2020) from MoT+++ team and collective

Website: http://lananhle.net
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lananhle__/

Lan Anh’s last interview was published posthumously on April 28:
Ho See Wah, ‘Fresh Faces: Lan Anh Lê’, Art & Market

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Lananh Lê (@lananhle__) on