Jean Tran Hates Eggs
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They get to work. Small hands even smaller against too-big chalk. “You’ve drawn too many legs,” says the girl to the boy, “chickens only have two.” Her companion explains that they grow one every year, up to sixty or so he hears. “That’s silly,” the girl says, “chickens don’t live that long*.” The boy takes out a photograph and explains his hen hatched twenty-four years ago*. Perhaps they had given her a green-hued brew*, the girl thinks: the kind in the movies that make you grow. She briefly wonders if animals threw birthday parties* too. At dusk, the girl and the boy step back to admire their obstacle course—pastel chalk lines between her house and his. The boy asks if they had done enough for the night: for the moon* was going to bed soon. “Of course not, can't you see?* ” she says to him, “There is so much more to do*.”

A BFA Final Year Project that combines illustration and graphic design to investigate the potential of books as objects of fiction.

The fictional narrative aims to re-invent the book’s role and status in print-based fiction by exploring alternative formats of visual storytelling. Presenting as a commemorative family cookbook, it chronicles the life and work of Jean Tran, a restaurateur and the patriarch of a French-based Vietnamese family. The story is told through the lens of his family members and the various members of Studio Archival: the fictional Singapore-based graphic design studio commissioned to produce and design the book for Restaurant du L’œuf Op La’s 70th anniversary.

Jean has placed a ban on the phototaking of critical subject matter—people, animals, and food. Nothing is ever as it seems as the studio finds workarounds for the visual and graphic restrictions placed on the production and presentation of images in the cookbook. The resulting visual language is a dialogue between doctored photographs and hand-drawn illustrations of what should have been a straightforward documentary process. The reader navigates through these images and the accompanying transcribed interviews with the Tran family to only encounter further complications resulting from mistranslations, missed cultural contexts, and purposeful logical inconsistencies. This narrative, which closely parallels reality, constantly borrows, subverts, and recontextualises familiar visual language and paradigms to  blur the lines between fiction and reality: questioning how things are, how they came to be, and how they should be in order to solve the final puzzle—why does Jean Tran hate eggs?

︎205mm (W) × 270mm (H)

Text, illustration & design
︎Kim Nguyen

Edited by
︎Benjamin Alexander Slater

︎Stephanie Jeane

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