BUI SISTERS

(…) In a way this is what the Bui sisters have been doing in their videos and films for years: they question the certainties of human perception, play with dimensions, genres, Newton’s laws of motion. Julia Bui-Ngoc and Mai Bui-Ngoc, whose mother is Polish and father is Vietnamese, join these rather distant experiences and put them into one. Dedicated to theatre and dance, Julia was studying under Professor Grzegorz Kowalski at the Faculty of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, where she joined „Kowalnia”, i.e. an informal group of artists founded by Kowalski [kowal means a blacksmith in Polish, so kowalnia would be a blacksmith’s workshop], where in the 1990s as well as afterwards a number of leading Polish artists have developed their talents. After graduation from architecture, cinematography and television studies, followed by an intense career of an architect, Mai set off on her 1.5-year-long travel around the world. Three years ago the sisters established an art team which deals with art, theatre, cinema and advertising. Sometimes they cooperate with other artists – in this case with Jarek Jóźwik, music writer.

Questioning perception certainties seems to be one of the major goals of the two artists’ work – both when in their video clips they play and present the characters as small Gullivers in the land of giants, or when in the theatre they tell their actresses to go through the door one by one and enter the screen, thus blurring the borderline between the real world and the virtual one. The big and the small, the real and the pretended, the high and the low mix with one another. Shooting models from above often makes their bodies look like puppets, rag dolls or computer game characters. The Bui sisters also play with film genres. The atmosphere of the noir blends with the scenes of passion, while rising suspense leads to nothing. In some of their advertising productions the tandem sometimes uses quotes (such as long, round shots by Rybczyński). What emerges from their works above all is the concept of the theatre. The belief that we live in parallel worlds and that we can easily slide even from the most dangerous and dramatic reality into a puppet show or fantastic world of comic books.

Fabio Cavallucci

Julia Bui Ngoc
Mai Bui Ngoc
Severine Walter