Saturday, June 13, 2009

Art students tackle "identity"

What defines Vietnam, what are its cultural icons?

One of the exhibits by Vietnamese and Swedish art students attempting to define the concept of identity.

These are the questions that Vietnamese and Swedish art students are attempting to answer through an exhibition in Hanoi.

Their responses to the “What Is Identity?” exhibition vary from paintings and photos to video art and installations and even chairs, sauce bottles, trays and old roof tiles.

Radek Stypczynski, who has lived in Vietnam for five years, has taken along 17 wooden chairs that a street vendor in Hanoi normally uses for her customers.

The question of identity has been discussed in many conferences and papers, and now, for the first time in Vietnam, at an exhibition.

Duong Thi Ngoc Lua, one of the 30 participating students, says it is “living in one’s own world” such as swimming like fish in the sea and flying like birds in the sky.

Ylva Landoff Lindberg thinks one’s identity is expressed by trying to understand what one is looking for and discovering it through a specific item, while Elin Elfstrom defines identity as the beauty of ruins.

In the opinion of some, Vietnamese art students lag their Swedish cousins when it comes to creativity and the way an intention is expressed.

Stina Rosenberg from Sweden’s Umea School of Fine Arts believes many Vietnamese artists use wordy captions to explain their ideas and fail to express abstract feelings and concepts.

Vietnamese curator Tran Hau Yen The says, “it’s dangerous when an artist tries to interpret a concept that’s too vague. Their work can easily become a bulky narrative.

The exhibition, sponsored by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Swedish Consulate in Vietnam, is running at the Vietnam Fine Arts University at 42 Yet Kieu Street until tomorrow.

Reported by Y Nguyen


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