Bio – Vu Pham

Wandering Within Freedom and Desire

“Thus, totally free, undistinguishable from the period for which I have chosen to be the meaning, as profoundly responsible for the war as if I had myself declared it, unable to live without integrating it into my situation, engaging myself in it wholly and stamping it with my seal, I must be without remorse or regrets as I am without excuse; for from the instant of my upsurge into being, I carry the weight of the world by myself alone and without anything or any person to lighten it .”                                        

— Jean-Paul Sartre, Essays in Existentialism

Vu Pham is a Vietnamese-American immigrant, wanderer, laborer, dissenter, filmmaker, and human-being. He was born Hoan-Vu Nguyen Pham in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Shot out of the historical pistol of the Vietnam War, he and his mother set sail on a rickety fishing boat on the South China Sea with many other desperate social-political idealists toward Malaysia where they would eventually be thrown into the immigration circuit and be admitted into the U.S. as political refugees.

In the fall of 1981, Vu and his mother arrived in Portland, Oregon and resided in the surrounding suburbs. In 1983, shortly after their hard won “American Dream,” his mother dies tragically. This event is immutably married to their traumatic immigration and releases in him the philosophical freedom and chaos that that would come to radically define his life as a wanderer of strange and fantastic landscapes, within and without. It is this loss and wandering that he attributes primarily to his creative drives.

Left to his own devices beginning at an early age in the States, Vu discovered the stereoscopic images of the otherworldly Marvel superhero, Dr. Strange, through his favorite childhood toy, the View-Master. It was there in the surreal three dimensional reality of Dr. Strange that he fell in love with the image. During this same period of American cultural integration he experiences Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly on TV and from this he learned to love the moving image.

While at Marylhurst University he is introduced to Existentialism and Postmodernism. He discovers the writings of such Western thinkers as Hegel, Marx, Heidegger, Nietzsche, and Freud. His love for the moving image becomes synthesized with a reverence for its place in the unconscious where each act of symbolic meaning-making appears to be the development of a neo-sentience; a neo-consciousness. However, at the heart of his artistic efforts—where the blood flows out from the hole made by Kurtz’s “diamond bullet”—is none other than the love for a good story.

Vu considers the followings acts to be an accurate summation of  his existence: sleeping, dreaming, building towards ideals, destroying that which was built, rebuilding, and, like most humans living in an industrial-capitalist society, selling one’s labor for symbolic devices of “things -to-be.” For all this, Vu is eternally grateful.  He recently discovered that he is, literally, the luckiest person he knows.  His life is truly his and he chooses it all.