Made of intricately hand-cut paper, this portrait honors Aiden Khanh Nguyen, founder of the zine Vanguard, which is dedicated to the narratives of LGBTQ+ individuals. Nguyen also founded the Vietnamese Queer Film Festival. This work is the first in a series of life-size, hand-cut paper portraits entitled The Slaysian Dynasty, which artist Antonius-Tin Bui created to celebrate the lives and identities of Queer Asian American Pacific Islanders.
Bui, whose parents moved to the United States as refugees in 1975, first traveled to Vietnam with Nguyen in 2017. In Saigon, Nguyen introduced Bui to a welcoming community that the latter describes as a “Queer Utopia.” For Bui, Nguyen is a mentor “who works every day to create platforms that allow our community to imagine narratives beyond the histories, stereotypes, and limitations constantly projected onto us.” Cut from joss paper, which is burned in Chinese ancestral worship ceremonies, this portrait incorporates Nguyen’s tattoos and a symbolic background.