DN: Yeah, they are already subjects that want to be seen and photographed. I found Weronika Nguyen, the main character, on Instagram. Her profile was mainly selfies, but in a kind of mysterious and filtered way. All the other Polish kids had pages for their K-pop crews, actively posting dance cover videos and fandom content. So the K-pop was already inscribed on their bodies. Weronika exists in Poland because of very specific historical circumstances, and the Vietnamese in present-day Warsaw are a significant minority living under a right wing regime. K-pop tends to be more popular in countries with Communist backgrounds. None of this is fictional, it’s all there living and breathing, and yet I can definitively say that this was not a documentary.
It became more about entangling myself with their desire or desperation, the thing they’re trying to move towards as fans. I like staying in the realm of the amateur, even with production and technology. It’s not because I’m trying to be democratic or enact a poor image. It’s more about intimacy and striving, putting the pressure on transformation. It’s productive for me to take away the intellectual authority of exposing or revealing, and I’ve started to realize this is more of a formal challenge than even a conceptual position. With the photographic technology we have at hand, it’s actually easier to default to a space of capture, or empiricism, and express a perspectival advantage. Going against that isn’t about pointing out the apparatus, or evoking a disillusionment with the image. I think that’s too easy and doesn’t speak to how we actually identify with images, how they transform us. I think the teens are already doing what I’m trying to do, by staying so much with the illegitimacy of fandom, by creating their version of a reality that will never be truly accessed. The risk as an artist for me is to keep acknowledging the desire to make anything at all, where it comes from, and how there’s no particular virtue in it. I felt a lot of vulnerability with Tyrant Star. I didn’t want any kind of certain truth about Vietnam accessed through my identity, as if I have the authority, as if that should evoke sympathy. So in a way, the second film was a response to the first, to my own journey as an artist and the ambivalence that expands.