Cover image of the review
Phuong Ngo, Nostalgia for a Time That Never Was, installation shot. SUBSTATION, Melbourne. Photo: Matthew Stanton

Phuong Ngo, Nostalgia for a Time That Never Was

4 Jun 2022
The SUBSTATION 29 Apr - 16 Jul 2022

I bet you didn’t know that there was more than one Treaty of Versailles. In the eighteenth century, the French signed no less than seven. The best-known Treaty of Versailles—the one that marked the end of World War I—was signed almost two centuries later. It should really come as no surprise, given that the French were peak colonising around the eighteenth century and the treaties were methods of asserting French military influence. And when they weren’t colonising, the French were at least scoping out their prospects. One of the first treaties of Versailles was made with Lord Nguyễn Ánh in 1787, who offered France a few concessions in Vietnam as part of the deal. Without going into the intricacies of why the treaty was signed (there was inter-familial feuding involved), suffice to say this was the first time France dipped its toes into Vietnam, giving them a taste for making it their own a century later.

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