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After the Fall of Hmong Tebchaw, by Hmong-American photographer Pao Houa Her, features photographs taken at the Hmong Elders Center and Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in St. Paul, Minnesota. The project’s title refers to an incident in 2016 in which a conman claiming to be working with the US White House and United Nations to secure land in Southeast Asia for the stateless Hmong people defrauded more than $1.7 million from Hmong seniors with promises of citizenship and land in the future Hmong nation, named Hmong Tebchaw.
Her’s photographs at the Elders Center are portraits of Hmong seniors—most of whom resettled in the United States as refugees—flanked by artificial plants, following the conventions of traditional Hmong studio portraiture. The photographs at the Conservatory depict tropical plants reminiscent of those found in Southeast Asia, transplanted to an indoor environment in snowy Minnesota.
After the Fall of Hmong Tebchaw illustrates the complexity of national imaginaries and the practices of belief that they engender. The project spatially mimics the dispersion and the imaginary, ungraspable nature of Hmong Tebchaw. The photographs are exhibited in bus shelters around Vancouver. They are accompanied by a single photograph of a Southeast Asian jungle displayed in Or Gallery’s front window. The junglescape, taken by Her in Laos, stands in for the imaginary referents of the studio portrait style and the conservatory environment.
After the Fall of Hmong Tebchaw is presented in parallel with the solo exhibition Pao Houa Her: Emplotment, which runs from March 27 to May 16 at Or Gallery.
Supported by a Tricera Printing Grant.