”We open the door to everybody” – An interview with Artistic Director...

”We open the door to everybody” – An interview with Artistic Director of VCCA

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by Uyen Ly & Nguyen Duc Tung for Hanoi Grapevine
Do not copy or re-post without permission from the writer and Hanoi Grapevine.

Officially opened on June 6th, 2017, Vincom Center for Contemporary Art (VCCA) has become a popular venue – not just for the art community. Hanoi Grapevine had an exclusive interview with curator Mizuki Endo to reflect the journey of introducing art to all.

Mr. Mizuki Endo, artistic director of VCCA

After one and a half year, which exhibition do you think is the most successful and how do you define success?

I can’t say only one exhibition because each exhibition has its own characteristics, and affects each audience differently. For example, the exhibition “Diary of a Cricket – Touch the worlds”. I think it was quite enjoyable for all generations, especially kids. We can mention “Fragments” – an exhibition by Hiraki Sawa. There were many local visitors came to see that never-seen-before video installation. Also there was “Foliage 2” – a kind of a showcase of upcoming, young artists. So each exhibition has different target and each one is equally important to me.

Artwork at exhibition “Diary of a Cricket – Touch the worlds”
Artwork from the video installation by Hiraki Sawa
Image from exhibition “Foliage 2”

How do you engage the audience?

VCCA is located at a shopping mall and we don’t have entrance fee, so it’s easy to come to VCCA. And it’s really good, because usually not all people have access to contemporary art events. On the other hand, as a curator I believe that art is for everyone, any generation, any gender,… So it’s great that VCCA is located at such an open place.

But, people usually expect a kind of pleasure, and a kind of public event they can understand. I know VCCA’s events and exhibitions are sometimes a bit difficult to understand. But the important point is that appreciating art is not a consumption, not to own something, not to buy something. Artworks give you questions, not the answers. So it is a good contrast between Hiraki Sawa’s exhibition and cinema complex where you can buy popcorn and watch movies. But to come to VCCA to see an exhibition is different. You don’t have to pay any money, however your eyes may not get easy-to-understand meanings with no stories or conclusions. You just have to float between images and you will figure out the senses only you can think of. They come from your experience, your memory, your life. So that meaning is only for you.

How about the growth of audience in number?

Number of audience goes up and down depending on the exhibitions. But I am happy a lot of young people visit VCCA to see the new images. It is not easy for young people to accept contemporary art. You have to be open minded and curious. And we don’t have any comparable institution here. In term of contemporary art institution I can’t compare if we have enough audience, but I like more audience.

For me of course the number of audience is important aspect. The more important point is the simple fact that VCCA exists always, showing something always. I hope people keep it in their mind. I want people to think if you have free time, you have kids, you are a grandma, you think: Hey, I need art. And people come to see us. Our art center always open the door to everybody. That is important.

If we want more audience we can make something spectacular and eye catching, it is easy. But we want something enough complex, and enough diverse. We don’t give audience something one topic, one meaning, easy to eat, easy to digest.

What makes VCCA unique from other art spaces?

We are open to the public (for free). In the future we have programmes to support young talented artist. And our exhibition is not totally for sales, it is only for appreciation.

About young artists Vietnam, what difficulties they have to face?

I think the most problematic thing is to have a dream, to believe in the power of art, what art can do in the society, how art can be influential to the world. If you think art is just a technique, make a beautiful painting, then you are just a craft maker. I hope artist think art can be influential, it can make people happy. Sometimes artworks can change society, artworks can change the concept of beauty, the condition of human being… Money can’t make you happy.

How artists can benefit from VCCA?

As I said VCCA is open to all. So the space itself is a message to artists: you have the freedom to make big art with pure creativity. And artwork is to give something important to the public. I hope this space can make artists think more and more and make new artistic values.

Thank you for your sharings!

Photos from other exhibitions in the journey to introducing art to all:

Artist Trần Thu Vân made artwork from hundreds of ceramic leaves at exhibition “Dear Bicycle!”
Painting from exhibition “Ellipses” by artist Hà Mạnh Thắng
Artwork from exhibition “Foliage 1”
Artwork from exhibition “Shadow and Shape” by artist Lê Thiết Cương

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