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Contemporary Art Gallery

555 Nelson Street
Vancouver, Canada
Admission always free

Today's hours
12 pm - 6 pm
2 Feb 24until5 May 24

Diane Severin Nguyen

If I hadn’t created my own world, I would have died in someone else’s

B.C. Binning Gallery

Diane Severin Nguyen, In Her Time (still), 2023. Courtesy of the artist.

Across her moving image work, Diane Severin Nguyen depicts characters driven to express the enigmatic truths of their existence. Faced with the stultifying effects of historical trauma and the ungraspable nature of intergenerational memory, Nguyen’s works explore her protagonists’ struggle to realize their agency in the present.

At the Contemporary Art Gallery, Nguyen presents In Her Time (Iris’ Version), a new edit of her 2023 feature-length film In Her Time. Set amid the outsized period sets of Hengdian World Studios, the largest film studio in Asia, the film follows Iris, a young actress searching for her voice as she prepares for the leading role in a Chinese historical epic. Couched in the conceit of a “making of” special, In Her Time depicts Iris behind the scenes, rehearsing lines and describing the artistic process of coming to inhabit her character. Throughout, she deliberates over the demand the film places upon her to master performing pain and victimization. Iris’ Version introduces new content shot from Iris’ iPhone camera, intercutting the “official” footage with reflections on the filmmaking process from the actress’ perspective.

In Her Time was commissioned and produced by the Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, with support from the Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver.

Iris’ Version is 67 minutes and begins at the following times each day: 12:00, 1:10, 2:20, 3:30, 4:40


Diane Severin Nguyen works with photography, video and installation. Through material and sculptural experimentations, Nguyen approaches the photographic moment as one of transformation. The artist is particularly interested in exceeding photography as a mode of documentation, and engages with it rather as a set of conditions shaped by desire and speculation. Her video work narrativizes these tensions by examining the histories of power, victimhood and forms of propaganda that underpin cultural (and self) image-making. She has exhibited her work internationally, in places like SculptureCenter, The Renaissance Society, Rockbund Art Museum, MoMA PS1, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Schinkel Pavilion, Jeu du Paume, the Hammer Museum, and many others. Her films have been screened at film festivals such as the New York Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam and Berlinale. Nguyen is a recent recipient of the 2023 Guggenheim fellowship and lives and works in New York.


Diane Severin Nguyen: If I hadn’t created my own world, I would have died in someone else’s is supported by the Province of B.C. and presented with additional support from Clark’s Audio Visual.

This exhibition is part of the 2024 Capture Photography Festival Featured Exhibition Program.