Country Charm, Sanh Brian Tran, Oct 2020Go Back
Country Charm, Sanh Brian TRan
On view in the DeSoto Family Vault October 30, 2020 – February 21, 2021
Country Charm examines artist Sanh Brian Tran’s experience as a queer Asian man living in rural America. This multimedia exhibition features photography, video, and Tran’s abridged manifesto to address issues of race, homophobia, and gender roles through drag.
After having lived nearly my entire life in cities, I found myself in a completely foreign American landscape amongst white faces, red barns, and camouflage when I moved to rural central Pennsylvania.
The video on view, Anti Mame presents Anti Mame’s Country Charm School, references the iconic queer camp classic film, Auntie Mame. Whereas Auntie Mame centers sophistication and queer culture around urban living, my Anti Mame addresses narratives that are often neglected in queer culture—race and rurality.
Camouflage is a common and predominant motif of rural life. The camouflage I don is drag, acting as gender and cultural camouflage. But the drag camouflage I adorn in the photographs made before the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic has become limiting amidst the rise of anti-Asian racism and a national political agenda to name the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus.” In light of the pandemic, what was once camouflage has now become aposematism.
Aposematism (ap· o· sem· a· tism | \ ˌa-pə-ˈse-mə-ˌti-zəm \): the use of a signal and especially a visual signal of conspicuous markings or bright colors by an animal to warn predators that it is toxic or distasteful. —Merriam-Webster
Sanh Brian Tran was the first person in his immigrant Vietnamese family to join the ranks of the white-collar worker. He promptly broke his first-generation parents’ hearts by quitting his attorney profession to become a self-taught photographer.
Influenced by his background, he explores themes of identity and class through fashion and taste culture. Tran moved from San Francisco, California, to a small town in central Pennsylvania where he turned the camera on himself to address what it means to be non-White and gay in rural America.
Learn more about Sanh Brian Tran at sanhtran.com