Nashville, Tennessee
Contemporary Art Gallery

237 Rep. John Lewis Way N. 37219
Tuesday–Saturday 10:00 a.m. — 5:00 p.m.





 Arden Bendler Browning | Black Forest

Lily Prince | Beneath the Moon, Under the Sky

Jeanie Gooden & Brandon Reese | Two Person Exhibition


Kimia Ferdowsi Kline | Drinking Tears

Elspeth Schulze | Hold Water 

Sisavanh Phouthavong | ctrl + alt + del

Reed Anderson | Tender Garden




Tinney Contemporary is proud to present ctrl + alt + del, an exhibition featuring works by Sisavanh Phouthavong. The exhibition will be on display April 6, 2024 through May 18, 2024. The opening reception will be held on Saturday, April 6th from 2—8 PM in conjunction with the First Saturday Art Crawl. 

Sisavanh Phouthavong Houghton is a Lao-American, mixed media visual artist born in Vientiane, Laos. She creates vibrant paintings, collages, and sculptures, utilizing abstraction as a means of exploring refugee identity, colonial violence, and the generational impact of displacement. Having fled Laos with her family amidst the fallout from the Vietnam war, Phouthavong engages both personal and collective memories of armed conflict with particular attention to the “Secret War” on Laos, during which the US government dropped over 2.5 million tons of ordnance on the artist’s homeland—the largest bombing campaign in recorded history. 

The works in the exhibition render glitched and abstracted translations of images taken during conflicts in Laos and Vietnam, as well as from ongoing conflicts in Syria and Ukraine. These “map-based” works take the aerial viewpoint of state surveillance and drone strikes; of ever-shifting, contested national borders. However, by virtue of Phouthavong’s geometric distortions and glitch-like aberrations, the map is thwarted by the war-torn territory. The works might be read as an attempt to collapse the gap between past conflicts and the present—a distance embraced in Empire’s tendency to sanitize its own colonial past. Though narrated in the anesthetic, historical past-tense, the trauma of colonial violence remains present—in the case of Laos, quite literally, as roughly 50 civilian casualties of unexploded cluster bombs are reported each year.

ctrl + alt + del takes up the contemporary conditions of war with regard to media representation. While propaganda has been integral to any conflict, this battleground has expanded infinitely since the advent of digital media. Misinformation campaigns, state-sponsored propaganda, the corporate news industry are entangled with social media platforms, in which users are enlisted as soldiers in what PW Singer terms “LikeWars.” Facts seem to be as arbitrary as borders. The rigid distinctions and hierarchies demanded by war are reified by violence, but the on-the-ground experience of war is inherently at odds with this stratification.

Abstraction seems to emerge not only as a palliative, but as the most apt form for speaking to the effects of war on the individual. A fracture necessarily follows from violence, which is itself always beyond logical description; broken bodies amongst ravaged landscapes, glossed over with statistical detachment; the dislocation from one’s homeland, culture, and mother-tongue that comes with displacement. In Phouthavong’s work, beauty persists in tension with the weight of her subject matter. In the artist’s words, the work “ invites viewers to confront war's often uncomfortable realities while striving to unravel the intricate tapestry of human experience, particularly within conflict and its aftermath. These paintings serve as a visual exploration of memory, resilience, and the passage of time.”

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