Lêna Bùi
Environmental Ethics, Folklore, Human Ecology, Multispecies, more-than-human
Lêna Bùi

Lêna Bùi, precious. rare. for sale., 2023. Courtesy the artist.



Traditional Knowledge and Cosmologies

Environmental Ethics, Folklore, Human Ecology, Multispecies, more-than-human

Lêna Bùi


Blue Filaments

2018 - ongoing

Lêna Bùi, chainsaw marks 3, 2018. 187 x 131 cm. Pencil rubbing on tracing paper. Blue Filaments.  Courtesy the artist.

"This ongoing project revolves around felled trees and recurring dreams, ancestral wisdom and haunting apparitions.

Inspired by the massive cutting down of Khaya Senegalensis trees (a species native to West Africa) for urban development purposes on one of Saigon’s oldest streets, I explore the intersections between botanical studies and urban planning in Indochina, its link to other countries in the region and West Africa under the French colonial empire.

The project consists of a performance in 2018 on Tôn Đức Thắng street where 143 Khaya Senegalensis ranging from 100 to 150 years old were chopped down. Every day for a month I came and made rubbings of the left behind stumps.

In progress is also a number of short videos and a dramaturgy of fictional and factual characters who manifest themselves as spirits residing in trees intent on observing the present while murmuring unspoken stories from times gone by." [1]

[1] Lêna Bùi, “Projects,” /|/|/, 2023, https://www.lenabui.com/projects.

Precious. Rare. For Sale.


Lêna Bùi. precious. rare. for sale., 2023. Video screenshot. Courtesy the artist.

"Precious. Rare. For Sale. takes a broad sweep at the presentation of nature in Vietnamese moving images from the 1990s. From being an abode for majestic and magical beasts, to serving as a backdrop for war heroics and social realist tragedies, representations of nature have been shaped by Vietnam’s changing socio-political contexts.
Reflecting on how filmmakers have portrayed the environment, Bùi questions the ethics of exploiting nature for the camera. While early ethnographic films shot by the French depicted the Vietnamese jungle as an untouched, primitive landscape, today’s images of razed forests and neatly-partitioned land plots reveal how nature has become a commodity for a rising middle-class. Captured on screen by property developers and thrill-seeking vloggers alike, nature’s images shape-shift constantly, feeding into an endless loop of mediated consumption." [2]

[2] Lêna Bùi, “Projects,” /|/|/, 2023, https://www.lenabui.com/projects.



Lêna Bùi, Kindred, 2021. Video screenshot. Courtesy the artist.

"Invoking the imagination of water as a conduit to spiritual realms, Lêna Bùi’s film poem contemplates reincar- nation in a mesmerising mosaic of sounds, languages, and images taken from different places and time peri- ods. The film opens and ends with water, passing through the underworld where boundaries between nations, species, and eras become porous. In this radically open state, we are free to flow between our own memories and those of the universal." [3]

[3] Text by Nguyen Dinh Ton Nu, taken from Echoes, Embers a Nhu Trang Trong Dem x Asian Film Archive film program. Made with the support of NTU CCA Residencies and Asia Culture Center, Gwanju.


Lêna Bùi

Lêna Bùi (b. 1985, Vietnam) work moves back and forth between various cultures and values, sometimes comparing and contrasting to better understand the socio-political make-up of the society that she lives in and how that shapes the way people move forward as a whole. Bùi is deeply interested in nature, humanity's position as part of it and a separation from it, our reliance on it, our altercation of it, our respect for it as well as our disrespect. In recent years, her work increasingly focuses on the environment and has taken on certain spiritual inclinations specifically folk traditions.

She received her BA in East Asian Studies from Wesleyan University, USA (2007). Her work has been shown in a number of solo and group exhibitions at the Jeju Biennale 2022; the Asia Culture Center Gwangju, South Korea; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Germany (2017); Sharjah Art Foundation, United Arab Emirates (2018).


Lêna Bùi. Courtesy the artist.


Kindred, Lêna Bùi, 2021

Residencies Rewired Session #1, 2021, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore Presentation: Lêna Bùi (Vietnam) & Elizabeth Ang (Singapore) – “Kindred” Coalescing research and materials gathered over the past months on botanical histories, flora, and fauna, as well as historical characteristics relating to their respective cities—Saigon and Singapore—Lêna and Elizabeth compose a short text collaboratively which unfolds narratives of growth and decay, cycles of development and reincarnation, and also evokes the diversity of the region.

Selected Exhibitions

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2024 Blue Filaments, Galerie BAQ, Paris, France
2018 Proliferation, Mansfield East Asian Center, Wesleyan University, CT, USA
2016 Flat Sunlight, The Factory Contemporary Art Center, HCMC, Vietnam

Selected Group Exhibitions

2023 Cyphering, Vibrating, Emanating, screenings and performance, Delfina Foundation, London
2023 Monographs, Asian Film Archive Oldham Theatre Foyer, Singapore
2022 Flowing Moon Embracing Land, Jeju Biennale, South Korea
2021 Posthuman Ensemble, Asia Culture Center, Gwangju, South Korea

Selected Residencies

2023 Delfina Foundation, London, UK

2020 NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, Residencies, Singapore

2018 March Project, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE