Wed – Sun 13 Mar – 06 June 2021, 10 am – 07 pm
The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre
15 Nguyễn Ư Dĩ, Thảo Điền Ward, District 2, HCMC
From the organizer:
The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre proudly presents two exhibitions: ‘Within / Between / Beneath / Upon’ and ‘Home: Looking inwards to the outer world’.
Borrowed things, others found
Dislocated narratives, others joined
Covered surfaces, others laid bare.
Recognizable forms, others defamiliarized
Man-made shapes, others crafted by nature
Traditional materials, others unconventional
Artists: Thảo Nguyên Phan, Richard Streitmatter-Trần, Lê Hiền Minh
Curators: Bill Nguyễn, Vân Đỗ
‘Within / Between / Beneath / Upon’ focuses on the art of sculpture by three internationally acclaimed Vietnamese artists Lê Hiền Minh, Richard Streitmatter-Trần and Thảo Nguyên Phan (with a special display dedicated to the late Modernist sculptor Điềm Phùng Thị).
In Vietnam, most people hear the word ‘sculpture’ and immediately think of religious statues in temples and pagodas; or grand political monuments that are socialist realist in style, that continue to be erected throughout the country as reminders of power and control; as outdoor decoration whereby ‘form’ precedes any purpose or content, or a replication of an ‘international’ style (with rarely an acknowledgment or intention).
‘Within’, ‘between’, ‘beneath’, ‘upon’ are concepts of place and time that not only tell us where something or someone is located, but also influences the direction of our gaze. Through the specifically designed gallery space of this exhibition, and the accompanying display strategies of the selected artwork, this exhibition also investigates influence — be it personal histories (of family and travel), collective legacies (found in architectural design and religious monuments), or interdisciplinary reciprocity (of methodology and knowledge from different disciplines) — aspiring to show how Lê Hiền Minh, Richard Streitmatter-Trần and Thảo Nguyên Phan understand and enrich the practice, meaning and value of sculpture today.
In this exhibition, sculptural installations are elevated to emphasize the distance of social inequality; some lie closely to the floor to accentuate the weight of history; while others invite us to look intimately into the layers of materials and forms. Lê Hiền Minh playfully challenges our collective understanding of monumentality and femininity, mounting larger-than-life structures in Dó paper, where magnificent figures of goddesses from multiple indigenous beliefs are amalgamated with home appliances – provoking, while also acknowledging, the strength of women in their seeming invisibility. Inspired by different periods of art history, techniques and cultures, Richard Streitmatter-Trần assembles industrial and ephemeral materials (such as steel, concrete, rice paper and moss) into hybridized forms that float, lie still or hang in the balance between the elements – defying the assumption of permanence in materiality and its determination of an artwork’s final form and meaning. Thảo Nguyên Phan’s preoccupation with historical artefacts and various folk tales invites the inclusion of work by the late renowned Vietnamese modernist artist Điềm Phùng Thị, whose unique geometric stone sculptures and fabric collages inspire Thảo Nguyên to create her own response (of wood, lacquer and paint), continuing to re-narrate and employ the complex and often contested oral and recorded history of Vietnam.
Artists: Nguyễn Đức Phương, Trương Công Tùng, Bùi Công Khánh, Nam Thi, Thảo Nguyên Phan, Võ Thuỷ Tiên and Tammy Nguyễn
‘Home: Looking inwards to the outer world’ is a selection of artwork arising from an initiative, begun in March 2020 by The Factory, at the onset of COVID-19.
DuringAmid this predicament, we at The Factory have asked ourselves: Who are we if we can no longer open our doors to our public? How can The Factory stay committed to maintaining our role as a concentrated port of ideas, where we continue to gather, share and exchange? How shall we take this opportunity to activate our role as memory keepers?
Inspired by the whimsical drawings of artist Nguyễn Đức Phương who, during the initial nation-wide social distancing month-long period in Vietnam, was humorously re-appropriating Vietnamese modern masters iconic works to a virus-laden era, The Factory felt compelled to extend invitations to our local community of artists seeking their response to what we now know, continues to be endured as a global pandemic.
‘Home: Looking inwards to the outer world’ includes drawing, painting, video, poetry, and installation; accompanied by particular audio from artists who share private monologue on their ideas, and video documentation of private musical performances held in the last year of the pandemic.
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