The Propeller Group

The Propeller Group (founded 2006, Vietnam) includes Tuan Andrew Nguyen (b. 1976, Vietnam), Phunam Thuc Ha (b. 1974, Vietnam), and Matt Lucero (b. 1976, United States). It is a vehicle traversing the complex borderlands of contradictory states of understanding, exploring convergences between oppositional concepts such as public/private, advertising/politics, history/future, labor/capital. The Propeller Group approaches the idea of “public” as a complex web of narrative creation, distribution systems, and mythology that infiltrates the social fabric of contemporary culture. Solo exhibitions have taken place at Lombard Freid, New York (2013); Sàn Art and Galerie Quynh, Ho Chi Minh City (2012); and 10 Chancery Lane, Hong Kong (2012). Group exhibitions include the 56th Venice Biennale (2015); Prospect.3, New Orleans (2014); the SeMA Biennale – Mediacity Seoul (2014); No Country, Guggenheim Museum (2013); the New Museum Triennial, New York (2012); and the Los Angeles Biennial (2012).

The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music, 2014
Video, 21 min 15 sec
Courtesy of the artists and James Cohan Gallery, New York/Shanghai.

The Propeller Group’s film The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music takes its title from a Vietnamese proverb and focuses on the ceremony of funeral wakes in Vietnam. A cast of spiritual mediums, professional criers, and musicians help lead these multiple-day mournings into euphoric public events. The film’s off-kilter soundtrack plays the lead character, as funeral bands embody popular tunes moving in and out of synchronicity, harmony, and cacophony. The history of music and processions in these ceremonies reflects traditions of ancestral worship. Their purpose is not to bury the deceased, but to see them off on their journey to the immortal world, usually with uplifting music as the coffin is carried to the tomb.

Along with fellow collaborator Chris Myers, The Propeller Group insists that “one of the gifts of the Global South is this ability to be many things, from many periods of time, many places at once. Such a feat may seem absurd – but that’s part of the magic and Einsteinian science of inheriting dislocated and fragmented traditions.”

The video begins on the hour and half past.


  • September 12th–13th, 12–4pm
  • September 26th–27th, 12–4pm
  • October 17th–18th, 12–4pm
  • October 24th–25th, 12–4pm
  • November 21st–22nd, 12–4pm



The Living Need Light, The Dead Need Music, 2014, Installation view 3:e våningen, GIBCA 2015. Photo: Hendrik Zeitler