Tinan Nguyen (they/them or he/him) is an interdisciplinary conceptual artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. Their installation-based work attempts to contribute to ongoing ideas in contemporary art and literature surrounding war, refugee experiences, representation in pop culture, contemporary visual culture, queer intimacies, art institutions, and how those ideas have intersected with one another in their own life and family history. They are interested in utopias and dystopias, and how the process of world-building can be both a medium for art and a method for exploring the possibilities of sociopolitical change. Nguyen received their BFA (with honors) in 2019 from Rhode Island School of Design with a concentration in History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences.
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The name “Tinan” is the artist’s pseudonym, and it comes from the Vietnamese word, tị nạn, meaning “refugee.” Using this pseudonym serves as a constant reminder to the artist of their family’s history as refugees from Laos and Vietnam, and how that history has shaped the way they were raised. In combining the two parts of the original Vietnamese word into one and ridding it of its diacritic accents, the artist hopes to reflect their status as someone who was born in the US to refugee parents--what they refer to as being a second-generation refugee. The artist hopes that changing the word in this way will help prevent themself from making any sort of attempt to claim their family’s firsthand experiences with war and violence as their own, while still acknowledging the impact of those experiences on their own life in the US.
Having a pseudonym in place of their legal name also allows the artist to freely create work about their queerness without fear of judgment or discrimination from certain individuals within their personal life.