KVT – Flying very High at the Japan Foundation

Posted on Tuesday 18 Dec - 2012


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KVT in awe of the vision of Nguyen Phuong Linh and her band of friends and sponsors

There are two outstanding walls that have been erected in Hanoi. One brilliant one made of bones at Goethe by Bopha Xorigia-Le Huy Hoang and another brilliant one made of wooden pallets at the Japan Foundation by Japanese architect Tsuneo Noda.

It’s the wooden one….walls, floor, shelves, rooms and platforms…that I’m totally intrigued with today. Its totally worthwhile getting along to the Japan Foundation to wander though the amazing metamorphosis there

One could, and should, say that it’s part of the most exciting art development we’ve had in Hanoi for years.

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But wouldn’t you know it…..very time I leave Hanoi for an extended time, a cultural event crops up that makes me wish I’d stayed.

This time it was all to do with the wooden walls and floors of ‘Skylines With Flying People’, a breathtaking concept devised by young artist and curator, Nguyen Phuong Linh. Linh is one of those renaissance type people who push boundaries and ideas. Growing up in the surrounds of the experimental art space of Nha San, she has obviously grown disenchanted with the art and culture scene inHanoi that too often plunges into complacency and self congratulatory mode, and has decided to stir the pot a little ….in this case with a large wooden spoon. Linh is a very competent conceptual artist too, and I still recall with relish her full size, upside down tree at Nha San

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‘Skylines’ aims to create…. a contemporary art multiplex project where-in art practitioners work collectively to explore alternative methods of  art creation and team working. For a more detailed explanation plus info about it’s stirring title, click here.

The part that I missed out on and therefore made me grind my teeth in frustration, was the open studio project in which international and local artists and curators had fairly intimate, interactive talk sessions in a small, purpose built amphitheater room.

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Now that I’m over that disappointment and nicely tanned after 10 days on the most remote part of Phu Quoc I could find, I’m enjoying occasional visits to the project, wandering through the wooden complex and being involved  in  what’s going on….and it’s engrossing

One of the main protagonists in the project with Linh has been local artist extraordinaire, Tuan Mami   who  punches the walls of conservative art thought and practice until they reel with exhaustion.

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Apart from an art talk in the talk theater Tuan Mami has two pieces of very innovative works on show. One is in the theater and is in the form of an interactive book

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And the one to rave about is in the library of the foundation where he has seeded the floor with 100kg of rice seeds and then covered the floor with thick glass. The resulting, growing, walk on carpet is wonderful, and was even more delightful on its debut night when a group of aging women farmers were the first ones to wonder at it. It’s called ‘Utopia’ and is representative of an untouched paradise.

It’s enough to visit the project just to catch the mottled greenness of it.

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Artists are at work in the specially constructed studio places and so far I’ve met and been photographed by Jamie Maxtone-Graham in the space he shares with exciting video artist, Nguyen Trinh Thi; I’ve bought a special T shirt  from Nguyen Quoc Thanh embroidered with the name of an air force personnel with thread from a  deconstructed uniform, and seen terrific dresses designed by Lai Dieu Ha in the sewing factory; I’ve shared a communal  meal in the family kitchen of young artist Nguyen Hong Ngoc (as can all visitors and participants);  I was glad to see, again, the delectable toys of Tran Thu Hang. I’ve yet to explore the mobile gallery or the cozy cubby film theater in a back corner but I have until the 21st of December to enjoy doing  that.

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Click here for a brief bio on participating artists.

I am really impressed with the main gallery which features ‘Measuring the World’ which shows excellent and innovative  video and sound installations by Japanese artists Yuchiro Tamura and Kumpei Miyata and a fascinating measuring of Hanoi’s tallest building by Nguyen Huy An which  intend to follow closely.

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Outside, artist Miyata  does more measuring by vaulting a wooden horse that increases in height as the days go by

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This week look out for more FLYING events and especially the performance piece at Goethe and the big closing event on the 22nd

Nothing with the bigness of ideas and implementation can be done without funding and without the largesse and foresight and innovative acceptance of the following, artists and those that follow art would not have had the chance to participate in this fabulous, multiplex

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And a PS to show the really lovely toy dioramas of Tran Thu Hang that any child …or a lot of creatively minded adults…would love for Christmas

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And have a good look at Jamie’s pile of photo images from his lying down piece…and do get your photo taken by this major photographic artist…he’ll even email you the image he prefers.

Kiem Van Tim is a keen observer of life in general and the Hanoi cultural scene in particular and offers some of these observations to the Grapevine. KVT insists that these observations and opinion pieces are not critical reviews. Please see our Comment Guidelines / Moderation Policy and add your thoughts in the comment field below.

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