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Young Vietnamese artists

09.10. - 15.11.2009

Lai Thi Dieu Ha | Dinh Q. Lê | Nguyen Manh Hung | Nguyen Trinh Thi | Tuan Andrew Nguyen & Phu Nam Thuc Ha |

Pham Ngoc Duong | Tran Trong Vu | Vu Hong Ninh

Curated by Tran Luong


Lim Dim

Is to be unaware or pretend to be unaware
Is a sultry midday, being half-awake half-concious
Is somebody being partly asleep, while seeming to be watching somebody else
Is something unclear of being true or false
Is people or objects moving dis-orientedly
Is something yet to be boiled, and the smoultering of silence


- Tran Luong -

Stiftelsen 3,14 together with Du store verden! is happy to invite to an exhibition with a group of new and young artists  from Vietnam. The majority of the artists belong to a small and solid group in Hanoi and share to a large degree to work with installations, performance and video.


Lim Dim is Vietnamese for regarding something with eyes partly shut. That's a way to describe somebody that's either partly asleep, may be in deep thought, possibly studying other people behind cover. The title puts description to a state of being referable to a new and young generation Vietnamese artists with small recognition in their home country. Rather, this a generation about to receive attention on the international visual arts arena. As of today, new media is not yet being taught at Vietnam's art academies. Rather, the art we see here still has the status of an underground phenomenon, not easily visible in the public domain.


Curator for the exhibition is the Hanoi based Tran Luong. Tran is himself an artist and has more than anyone else contributed to gather creative and current thinking Hanoi artists into a group environment. He's an internationally profiled artist and a heavy exponent for Vietnamese contemporary art, while at the same over the last ten years has started to curate.

Lai Thi Dieu Ha. Born 1976. Lives and works in Hanoi.


In Vietnam if you mention a man or woman’s private parts, it is considered blasphemous. When a sexual issue is raised, most native Vietnamese are embarrassed. To them private parts are regarded as dirty and ugly, and sex is considered shameful. Vietnamese women are perhaps those who suffer the most when it comes to sex. They are not in an active position. They have to wait and keep silent. They can not shout out loud when having sex. Women are expected to be submissive and to preserve their virginity until marriage.

Speaking out against what is traditionally expected of me as a woman, I have chosen to use the penis as a powerful symbol for what is considered taboo in Vietnamese society. I have created a series of penis as loaves of bread that will hopefully inspire viewers to consider these issues.



Dinh Q. Lê. Born 1968. Lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City.

“Imaginary country”

After the end of the VietnamWar in 1975, over half a million Vietnamese escaped from Vietnam mostly by boat on the South China Sea. They were scattered throughout the world but most resettled in Europe, Australia, and America.

Many left Vietnam when they were children with little or no memory of Vietnam. This generation of Vietnamese overseas grew up learning about Vietnam from their parents’ stories of war and poverty. Another source of their knowledge about Vietnam is through the media, mostly Hollywood movies about the VietnamWar. Vietnam for this generation is a war.

Thirty years later, many are coming back to visit and to live in Vietnam once again. The Imaginary Country video installation focuses on the personal struggle of these young men and women with the traumas of the past that they inherited and their coming to term with the real Vietnam, a country not a war.


Nguyen Manh Hung. Lives and works in Hanoi.

“Apartment block”

From the 60s till late 80s, thousands of apartment complexes were built in major cities in Northern Vietnam. Living in a small apartment in one of these buildings was a dream for a large number of young families at that time. These buildings were once the new life style typical of the communist era in the North. Since the last decade of the 20th century, Vietnam has changed rapidly. Old apartment buildings have deteriorated as the families have grown, giving birth to new generations, most of which still live together as extended families.

People have begun to find ways to expand and improve this confining living situation. Sleeping lofts made from wood and outdoor wire cages roofed over with sheet metal are some of the most popular solutions. On the ground floors of these buildings, recent years have seen the emergence of one of the most popular services in Hanoi – supervised parking areas for two wheelers. Most families on the ground floors have appropriated the common area to extend their living areas or to open up a number of services for the everyday life and entertainment needs of tenants and passers-by, which is creating a new way to live, entertain and socialize.
I was born, raised and still living in an apartment like this for 20 years. It always brings inspiration to make art.


Nguyen Trinh Thi. Lives and works in Hanoi.

“93 Years, 1383 Days”

My two videos in this exhibition utilize the visuals of death rituals as a vehicle to connect with the past. 93 Years, 1383 Days, a personal film of my grandmother’s bone-cleaning and reburial ceremony, boc mo, carried out nearly four years after her death, can be seen – perhaps – as a performance of the life-to-death transition.Watching her remains being unearthed, each bone cleaned one by one, and then reburied, I felt this Vietnamese custom to be gentle for both the dead and the living. Spring Comes Winter After, using footage from the public funeral of an important poet who was banned for decades in Vietnam, is connected to the political and historical situation of the country, provoking some questions still impermissible to be asked publicly in present-day Vietnam. What if one can play history in reverse and then replay it again?


Tuan Andrew Nguyen & Phu Nam Thuc Ha. Live and work in Ho Chi Minh City.


This video work is a piece in a larger body of work that deals with the quickly changing Vietnamese landscape and the youth culture that are trying to navigate these changes as they adapt and develop new strategies for individual self expression, particularly modern American graffiti.

The near life-size projection features the word Uh... written as a graffiti tag on various public walls throughout Ho Chi Minh City. As the passersby stroll past Uh’s work and traffic whizzes along the streets, we realize that we are viewing an imagined landscape inside the artist’s head. This work explores not only Vietnam’s shifting landscapes, both cultural and physical, but also questions the reality of change. Are the changes actual or simply perceived – fleeting visions of a potential future?


Pham Ngoc Duong. Born 1976. Lives and works in Hanoi.

“Vulture and turtle”

In traditional Vietnamese and Asian sculpture, the image of a turtle carrying a crane on its back symbolizes the preservation of immortal spiritual dignity. The turtle stands for immortality, while the crane stands for the elevated beauty of the fairy land.
However, since I was brought up, there have been many trivial living values, a greedy, selfish and opportunistic attitude. They are ridiculously arranged in deviation. Thus, I made a piece of art of placement in which there is a turtle carrying a crane. This work illustrates my feelings so far.


Tran Trong Vu. Born in Hanoi. Lives and works in Paris, France.

“Subject or Object”

Some people feel more confident thanks to photographic tools. This is a chance for them to show their right of owning not only the camera but also the subject taken by the camera. In other words, cameras have taken them to the position of subject and everything else around them is object. Taking pictures also helps the camera owners to show their power. They have all the privileges to control the lens and choose their subjects.


Vu Hong Ninh. Lives and works in Hanoi.

“Little soap Buddha”

2500 years ago, a child was born. The sky was full of falling flowers. The child stood up from the lotus throne and walked seven steps. He pointed with one hand to the sky and one to the earth, then said: Above is the sky, under is the earth and in-between, I am the unique. 2500 years later, a child was born. The sky was full of smog, dust and chaotic sound. The child stood up from soap bubbles, walked seven steps, looked around, showed his middle finger to the sky and said:


hết ý*

(*) the poly-semantic expression of young generation which means ‘no way’ and also shows their superciliously victorious result.



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Publication >>>

The exhibition catalogue presents the artists with text and photos as well as articles by the curator Tran Luong and art theorist and curator Joyce Fan, Singapore Art Museum.

The catalogue can be ordered at TrAP.

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