CA DAO: at Assab One the first solo exhibition by ...

CA DAO: at Assab One the first solo exhibition by Lihn Bubbio

Born in 1998, Lihn Bubbio arrived in Italy by adoption in 2000. Vietnam, the land where she was born, is at the center of all her works through which she discovers, preserves and spreads the most ancient traditions of this country.

Linh Bubbio, “CA DAO”, installation view at Assab 2024, ph. Mafalda Galessi, courtesy Assab One

“CAO DAO. Echi sussurri sentieri congiunti” takes its title from the large immersive installation that fills the space. Here, in fact, a forest of knotted red threads traces a path for the viewer, who, among these threads, can find, dangling, the Cao Dao written by the poetess Hồ Xuân Hương (1772-1822), or the transcription of poems in n chữ nho, ideograms rich in folk sounds and nuances. This alphabet, as well as the Chinese spoken in Vietnam by the Mandarin elite, is now completely lost due to the language reform movements that survived with French colonization and the introduction of the Latin alphabet. The exhibition’s subtitle, “Echoes Whispers Conjoined Paths” is the perfect synthesis of its elements; it speaks, in fact, of the Cao Dao, whispered among the cotton threads and paths that absorb the viewer in a guided journey, but it is also a composition in its own right, conceived by curator Erica Massaccesi, who decided to recover the rules of Latin metrics to emphasize the musicality of poetry, a fundamental element in the Vietnamese literary tradition.

Linh Bubbio, “CA DAO”, installation view at Assab 2024, ph. Mafalda Galessi, courtesy Assab One

The streets vacated by the threads that make up the Cao Dao installation are a reproduction of the four main streets of Saba, a city in Northwest Vietnam, and converge at the center of the room; the city’s main square. Here, the viewer is confronted with the monumental triptych “Sapa”, three softly colored banners from an impalpable texture. «The work was actually born out of a violent act» explains curator Erica Massaccesi «the original canvas, “Alexetimia”, depicted a natural landscape full of small elements that could be glimpsed among the red soil of Vietnam. (..) The impetuous act of disfigurement comes later, upon the artist’s return from one of her trips to her homeland. Today the country is moving toward globalization and economic growth at the expense of a thousand-year-old tradition, a culture that has existed since time immemorial. And so Linh, with impetus but also with extreme sensitivity, tears and mends, separates and stitches together». The act of destroying and then stitching back together is powerfully explanatory of the artist’s practice, which always turns its gaze to preservation, to the precious that can arise from pain. «The important thing is not the elimination of change, as much as recognizing what good it brings and recovering what is still healthy in order to preserve it so that it can be handed down» comments the artist.

Linh Bubbio, “CA DAO”, installation view at Assab 2024, ph. Mafalda Galessi, courtesy Assab One

Finally, framing this room, four walls are placed on, as many small canvases of more recent production. Delicate and seemingly abstract works, on second glance they show the explosion of bombs on fiery red hills and smoke rising from the ruins. Lihn Bubbio made them in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine to give a trace of this harrowing historical event and to bring back to memory the atrocities suffered by the Vietnamese people. The colors, the dominant element of the exhibition, are an almost liquid synthesis of the colors of the Vietnamese landscape and are used here as a solvent of connection between places. For example, all the works, including some cotton threads, were dyed red using Vietnamese soil as pigment. The exhibition, commissioned by Elena Quarestani, is a collaboration between Erica Massaccesi, curator, and Mafalda Galessi, production officer, and will be on view in Milan at Assab One until April 5, 2024.

Rita Meschiari


Linh Bubbio. CA DAO. Echi sussurri sentieri congiunti
15/03/2024 – 5/04/2024
Assab One
Via Privata Assab 1, 20132 Milano (MI)


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