“Tỏa 2” (The Foliage 2) (9 June – 15 July 2018) is another impressive exhibition hosted by VCCA – a contemporary art space owned by Vingroup – the big corporation that made its chairman a world’s billionaire.
Tapping into the contemporary art world since 2017, VCCA quickly won its position as the biggest and very well-built contemporary art space in Vietnam. Hanoi Grapevine interviewed Japanese curator Mizuki Endo, who is in charge of the artistic quality of VCCA.
How do you put this exhibition together?
Artist Pham An Hai collaborated with me in this exhibition. Hai gave me a short list of 20 artists, I picked 5 artists from his list, and 5 artists I picked myself. They are: Ta Minh Duc, Nguyen Duc Phuong, Le Phi Long, Trieu Minh Hai, and Vu Duc Trung. Artists in Pham An Hai’s list are all painters, so I picked up others who use media like lacquer, video, installation….to give it a balance. The artists he chose are really good. I like them a lot.
Is there any story behind this show?
No, we don’t have any story. We aim at showing young, dynamic artists to the audience.
Where do you think young Vietnamese artists are in the world?
I think they are quite unique because they come from the traditional culture, then the French war, the Communist, and Post Doi moi. There are a lot of changes in the history. It is a multi layer context. Young artists are really connected with the past, and now they have access to the internet, the information society. They are like eggs in the cradle, a lot of possibilities. At the same time, the education system is a little concern. So I hope they keep the heritage and develop it the best way.
What “young artist” means in your definition?
I mean unestablished. I don’t mean young by age. And “established” means artists who are presented by art galleries, who sell their works well, who are recognised internationally.
You mentioned “education” as a concern?
What I meant is a mutual learning process. Artists, curators, art teachers, audience, all can develop more. The communication among them can be organised well/better. Sometimes they fight with each other, so I think communication is very important. And this (VCCA) is a platform to do creativity together, it is a creative environment. It just need a small thing: better communication. I am trying to create that communication.
What is “the trend” in the art world right now?
Now it is the information society, the time of YouTube, of media, of the internet… It is transforming and transforming. It is the fact, it is what’s going on now, in general, and the art world is part of it.
How did you come to work with VCCA?
I received an invitation, and after some interviews, they accepted me. It is a challenge for me because I have worked as independent curator for more than 10 years. And I have never been to Vietnam before. But I had my master and doctor in other countries in the region. And so I came to Vietnam, to contribute to the art scene here, to observe carefully and support each and every artist.
I really focus on the audience. And this is a shopping mall, so many people can come and see art. I want to cultivate creative minds of the audience. Some other art spaces are quite not as accessible as VCCA.
Do you see similar structure like VCCA in other countries you have been too?
Yes. In Japan there is Mori Art museum, in Philippines there is Museum of Contemporary Art and Design. In Asia, public art centers have not been developed well for a long time, I mean in contemporary art. Now, there are private funds, private companies are opening art centers for the public, all related to contemporary art. By saying that I don’t mean public art center is not good, the Vietnam Fine Art Museum’s collection, for example, is really great. You can see it again and again. It is the place you must go and see every year. But modern contemporary art is not so functional there. So now private companies is doing a kind of public art institution.
Talking about contemporary art and the public, some audience told me they have the fear of not being able to understand the art work…
Just enjoy, just feel. You don’t have to understand. I am curator and sometimes I don’t understand some of the artworks myself (laugh). Let’s put it like this: artworks give us something, just accept it.
Interview by Uyen Ly for Hanoi Grapevine. Photos: Tufng