005 // 30.07.19

Videos for the Grandchildren I’ll Never Have
Jason Phu

The pull of ancestry as it shifts into the present, communication across generations, heritage as it delivers you to the future, viral cooking show videos, honouring those you love, familial creativity and collaboration, moving with the geopolitical tides across Asia, cooking as a useful and caring act.

I could never talk to my grandma because she spoke three of the languages I didn’t and I spoke two of the ones she didn’t. My dad spoke all five and would translate. Every time I saw her she would say “oh, he’s grown,” and I would reply “thank you grandma.” My mum could speak two of the languages, understand one of them and read another if needed. My dad would tell me stories before I went to bed and my mum would make sure I studied hard. Wherever I was in the world, the wok would be heating up oil and the exhaust van would be on.

Jason has always made honest, handmade works with his family and about his family. Now, he twists the format of a viral cooking video, with personal, plotless storytelling shot on iPhone. Conversations cross generations. Jason’s dad muses on marriage over an omelette, remembers his own father while frying fish, recalls the flashes of gunfire over Vietnamese skies while steaks sizzle. All are stories of heart and heritage, with food as a useful, caring, attentive act of giving. Finally, Jason’s mother sings of love while pressing dumpling skins together. So begins a trilogy of Prototype works in which family storytelling and history entwine with melancholy; James Nguyen and Talia Smith’s works will continue these threads in the weeks to come.

About Jason Phu

Jason Phu exhibits across Australia and beyond, making art with a storytelling sensibility to relay his parents’ stories, their religion and his own stories.

Artist's website

Videos for the Grandchildren I’ll Never Have

is part of

Prototype 2019


See all 2019 works