Homage To Quan Âm

28 Mar-19 May 2024
PV 28 Mar 2024, 6.30-9pm

arebyte Gallery
London E14 0LG


arebyte’s new exhibition, Homage To Quan Âm by Maria Than, delves deep into the intricate layers of personal identity, cultural assimilation, and the evolution of self-discovery. Quan Âm, the Viet name of Bodhisattva (Buddhist deity) of Compassion, Mercy and Medicine, has been the favourite goddess of many, including Maria. Drawing inspiration from Maria’s own experiences growing up in a Vietnamese-British-French Buddhist family, the exhibition serves as a visual and emotional exploration of the complex journey away from refusal, and towards acceptance and understanding.

Homage To Quan Âm forms part of arebyte’s artistic focus for 2023/26 themed The Body, The Mind, The Soul and traverses buried childhood memories, mortality, and identity through animation, CGI, AI-generated imagery, interactive digital works and virtual reality to unfold a personal, but relatable, account of staying with the trouble of becoming. Homage To Quan Âm suggests an assimilation with other narratives through the lens of Buddhist philosophy, fostering personal connections that transcend cultural divides and resonate on a deeply human level.

Growing up, Maria’s childhood was marked by the dichotomy between familial and religious traditions, and a desire to conform with more mainstream cultural environments, those that felt more like her non-religious peers. Facing external racism and discrimination, Maria “denied her Vietnamese roots, leading to a fractured sense of self”. In recognition of this complex journey, Homage To Quan Âm unfolds a narrative that mirrors the fragmented nature of identity formation and carries the viewer through the three states mentioned above: refusal, doused in red lighting, marks the fear of isolation from early childhood; understanding, in orange lighting, denotes the compassionate appreciation of family; and acceptance, in yellow, signifies the embracing of heritage.  

The exhibition represents the culmination of arebyte’s annual hotel generation programme, designed to mentor the next generation of UK digital artists during the critical early stages of their careers and whose 2023 edition was awarded to Maria Than.

Homage To Quan Âm is accompanied by a booklet featuring texts by arebyte’s curator Rebecca Edwards, artist Maria Than and artist, community activist and curator Cường Minh Bá Phạm.

A programme of talks, online gameplay events and workshops accompanying the exhibition can be viewed here.

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