echoes–cartographies of refuge and containment: Photo Essay & Description

Patricia Nguyễn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


echoes is a series of performance meditations that explores cartographies of refuge and containment of Southeast Asian Americans facing deportation. This photo essay features two iterations of echoes, from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago during the “Groundings” exhibition and the defibrillator gallery for the “Upheavals” performance festival in 2019. echoes challenges the carceral logics that undergird humanitarian aid after war and the criminalization of refugees through experiments with movement, sound, light, breath, and symbolic objects used in death ceremonies, refugee rescues, detention centers, and patriotic celebrations. For the first iteration, I sew myself into moving sculptures, experimenting with white fabric, or khăn tang, used in Vietnamese death ceremonies. The fabric’s measurements are based on the dimensions of detention center cells across the U.S. The thread is from the flags of countries that have signed repatriation agreements with the U.S., which expedites deportation. In the second iteration, I cover my body with a silver mylar blanket (“NASA blankets”) used in refugee rescue missions and detention centers, blocking/reflecting the light from light projections through explorations with muscular contractions and breathwork. This photo essay captures a study of gestures of mourning and resistance within and through these thresholds of confinement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalWomen and Performance
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • carceral aesthetics
  • Critical refugee studies
  • deportation/detention
  • liminality
  • minoritarian performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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