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Heritage Space, spread out as the ground floor of four towered Dolphin Plaza apartment complex in My Dinh, is touting itself as a possible new hub for the arts. The new metropoleis burgeoning around Hanoi certainly need a strong dose of something more gratifying than commerce and high rise living… and definitely a lot more public green places permanently set aside for relaxing and escaping the constant roar and dust that permeates.


Although only a stone throw from the chaos of the My Dinh bus station, the expansive spaces that are Heritage Space are an oasis of calm.

A few major cultural events and art exhibitions have used the spaces in the past couple of years.

The art event that is in its concluding phase is an excellent example of how the area can be utilized and for post info about the event, host, artists both local and international click here.

For a month a mob of international and local art practitioners have been involved in interacting practically and philosophically in what looked like an exciting and productive program and residency. Ideas and experience bouncing off the walls to stimulate creativity in the participants and encouraging wider community participation (I hope I’ve got it correct!)

As I spent just about all of that month exploring the mountains in northern Laos, I missed out on the events that were explored and discussed and shared… but last Sunday I was able to take a long look at the culmination of the project – an exhibition by participating artists who explore the theme LIMITED N’ INFINITE – which continues until the end of November and is one of those art events that is a DEFINITE MUST SEE for people who like having arty adventures.


It’s going to take me another visit -or two- before I digest the quality art work that is on show

There’s excellent underground parking at the venue and if your Vietnamese is limited just indicate to the security guards that you are TRIEN LAM-ing and they’ll be really helpful


33 art works are spread over 3 areas and very good information handout allows viewers to understand how the various artists tackled the theme.

The only medium that struggled to shine was Video – as it too often does when confined to small screens in busy places.

So what tickled my fancy?



Alia Ali is an often confronting artist of Yemeni/Bosnian background who‘is currently on a transglobal project, called the People of Pattern. She is exploring cultures and their stories through the medium of textile and the processes of making them. Her journey takes her to Oaxaca, Mexico; Bokhara, Uzbekistan; Yogyakarta, Indonesia; SAPA, Vietnam; Kyoto, Japan; Ahmedabad, India; and Dakar, Senegal’

Click here to see her site with access to super amazing images from two series: The People of Pattern and Cast No Evil – two works of the series are above.

More info on her brilliant work and philosophy here

I’m spitting chips because I had to miss her interview last week at Tadioto


Ilza Burchet’s wall drawing was a 100 per center for me. Her FRAGMENT of hand drawn lines touched that spot in me that falls head over heels with a lot of the lines of conceptual artists like Daniel Buren

Ilza’s delicate lines pour out parallel from a central spine. They could be in an earth map atlas – contour lines in a landscape; or suminagashi pages in a precious book.

The fragment seems to ask whether it should be continued to infinity – or at least until it covers two whole walls – or should it stay here enigmatically like a Vladimir Tatlin corner counter relief


Next door to Ilza, Vu Bach Lien maker of fine lined woodcut and lithographic prints extra-ordinaire continues the concept of lines with finger print portraits of all participating artists; delicate lines sworled on crumpling rice paper



In a very effective installation, Nguyen Thi Diep uses 7cm of measuring tape to talk about limits… physically due to an apparent abnormality that the artist lives with. The 7cm is also distorted in length.



On the floor nearby are little composite, identical male figures seemingly trapped in motion in a small square, endlessly running but for what purpose-or whose purpose? A cunning sculptural piece by Quach Bac who’s a very versatile practitioner in a lot of mediums and who has an exhibition opening in Saigon this week


Back to the Burchets! George held community sessions in which participants built small clay elephants. This was to highlight the finite fate of Vietnam’s endangered wild elephants which, as George says: their loss would be an infinite tragedy.

I liked the small confines of the sculpted animals – highlighting their diminishing habitat and the unfortunate fact that too soon the only wild Vietnamese elephants around will be those made of ceramic or plastic. The attached video is also appropriate.

At first glance I thought that an Anthony Gormley field of clay objects was needed to get the message across- but on second thought realized that George’s small field was perfect




There’s an impish quality to Can Van An’s play on shadows that are scattered at intervals throughout the exhibition so that they sort of jump out and surprise you. They give the show a breath of relaxation and relief.



Nguyen Phu Vien’s composite and plastic mic/snakes are a nice comment about being beware of what you hear announced or broadcast.

On an International level one only has to recall the vile spoutings that bedeviled and infantilized the recent American Presidential election

I picture a demented, far right demagogue spewing bile into each reptilian receptor… though the comparison is very unfair to all the real snakes of the world





Isaac Cordal is an important street artist with a body of work of little cement figures installed in urban landscapes throughout the world- that can’t help but impress

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His ‘Cement Eclipses are a critical definition of our behavior as a social mass. The art work intends to catch the attention on our devalued relation with nature through a critical look to the collateral effects of our evolution’ And for a more in-depth look at his very provocative work and philosophy click here

His pieces in Hanoi, including the large canvas, are titled ‘the nap’, ‘lost tourist’, and ‘wasted fish’ which must mean that he probably experienced a recent fish expiration in west lake that the locals blamed on a chemical spill and the relevant authorities put down to warm weather conditions.

He throws his usual miniature hide and seek inside out with his large canvas play on Fragonard’s Swing in a gentle geriatric way – though the napper may well be be having voyeuristic dreams.





Another famous international invitee was French artist Nathalie Contenay

Contenay states that she tries to open the doors of photography to release the past

Her cut up and cut out photographic works are a real treat and she even has a whole lot of Mona Lisa eyes following your progress.

I think that she and our own famous Nguyen Trinh Thi would have a lot to talk about



For years and years I’ve had a big thing going with the sculptural installations of Jessica Stockholder and consequently with the works of any young artists who have the Stockholder touch.

Nguyen Kim Duy certainly has and ever since I saw his melting ice-cream moment at a group exhibition at the art museum last year I’ve been looking forward to more of his stuff which certainly shows how art studies in Germany influenced his conceptual experimentation.

His installation is titled Lacrimosa which, in latin, means weeping. I am still guessing if it is something to do with Our Lady of the Sorrows, part of the Dies Irea sequence in Mozart’s ‘Requiem’, a character in Disc world, or a reflection of a contemporary death metal song with the same name. Whatever! It’s a good thing to mull over.

PART TWO next week after another excursion to My Dinh


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.


  1. Chào bạn KVT.
    Với tư cách là khán giả bình thường, tôi có ý kiến trái ngược với bạn về sự thành công của triển lãm.
    Tôi muốn trao đổi cởi mở với KVT về các tác phẩm, liệu bạn có sẵn lòng ?

    • Chào bạn, KVT có gửi tới bạn lời nhắn là: KVT rất sẵn lòng gặp bạn để trao đổi. Tuy nhiên, KVT sắp rời khỏi Việt Nam trong mấy tháng, vì thế KVT chỉ có thể gặp bạn sau khi quay lại Việt Nam hoặc có thể trao đổi trực tiếp trong phần comment dưới bài viết.
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