Chinese newspapers carefully conceal windows and the stainless steel room within. Behind the announcements and headlines are a disused hot tub, fairy lights slung low, and carefully curated nudes taped to the walls.

Inside the space, a man wrapped in red plastic takes his last breath, a girl smiles beneath the rough cut of red lips, a couple lay on a table, on each other, on breakfast for two. “Torn,” curated by PINKMATTER ++ and showing at 36 Ludlow Street, is the most recent solo exhibition of Vietnamese artist Thanh Mai (aka Nu).

From the series 'Noise' by Thanh Mai (Nu)

From the series ‘Noise’ by Thanh Mai (Nu)

"Torn" by Thanh Mai (Nu) Exhibition Opening, photographed by Casey Dorobek

“Torn” by Thanh Mai (Nu) Exhibition Opening, photographed by Casey Dorobek

"Torn", Thanh Mai (Nu) Gallery Opening, photograhed by Casey Dorobek

“Torn”, Thanh Mai (Nu) Gallery Opening, photograhed by Casey Dorobek

Originally from Vietnam, a communist country with strict censorship laws, Nu and her work are considered at once rebellious and revealing. A conceit that makes her explorations so compelling, so innocent in their documentation of budding sexuality and young love. The same photographs torn down from gallery walls in Saigon, now celebrated in her new home of New York.

The push pull between these two contrasting landscapes resolves itself in the documentation of quiet spaces and quiet moments, within homes, with friends and of found spaces that remind her of home. Her tumblr shows Chinese take aways in Brooklyn apartments, forbidden scenes in Saigon. Her show a condensed, raucous celebration of this visual diary caught between two worlds.

"Torn" Exhibiton after-party, photographed by Casey Smith

“Torn” Exhibiton after-party, photographed by Casey Smith

Thanh Mai (Nu) and Laura Weyl, photographed by Casey Smith

Thanh Mai (Nu) and Laura Weyl, photographed by Casey Smith

"Torn" Exhibition after-party, photographed by Casey Smith

“Torn” Exhibition after-party, photographed by Casey Smith

It is hard to tell when the show ended and the after party began. Sexual tensions and Tigerbeers on ice gave this secret space a sense of the immediate, the un-constrained. A house party with art on the walls.
When the music cut out there’s a feeling we’ve been caught out. And in the silence a girl in a state of undress walks out, mounts the vintage motorcycle unveiled moments before, and lights a cigarette between red stained lips. A burlesque show takes us deep into the evening: red lace, a lingering kiss, and everywhere is bare flesh and youth and memories of Saigon.

Thanh Mai (Nu), photographed by Casey Smith

Thanh Mai (Nu), photographed by Casey Smith

Amy Lousia and Laura Weyl, photographed by Casey Smith

Amy Lousia and Laura Weyl, photographed by Casey Smith

Thanh Mai (Nu) and Amy Louise, photographed by Casey Smith

Thanh Mai (Nu) and Amy Louise, photographed by Casey Smith

To see more of Nu’s work, head over to her website http://bleumai.com/

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