Artist Excellence Award

Artist Excellence Award

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From the organizer:

About Artist Excellence Award:

Giving recognition to one Vietnamese artist, who lives in Vietnam, whose experimental practice embraces unique perspectives – a vision that deepens, explores and nurtures the ideas, people and places it engages and collaborates.

Nominees for the inaugural award are::

– Lương Trịnh
– Đức Vũ
– Nguyễn Thị Thanh Mai
– Tuấn Mami
– Trần Tuấn
– Mai Nguyên Anh
– Nguyễn Phương Linh
– Nguyễn Huy An

Award evaluation process:

– Artists are nominated by experts with experience in the arts and culture of Vietnam
– Nominees are assessed by an international jury:
+ Dr. Roger Nelson (Art historian; Curator, National Gallery, Singapore)
+ Tom Tandio (Collector; Director of Art Jakarta Art Fair)
+ Tran Luong (Artist; Founding Director of ‘APD – Center for Art Patronage and Development’, Hanoi)
+ Arlette Quỳnh-Anh Trần (Curator; Director of the Post Vidai Collection)
+ Zoe Butt (Curator; Artistic Director of The Factory)

Established in 2021 by The Factory, awarded every two years, this award recognizes artists whose practices have not only produced critical experiments in their studio, but have also contributed to their social landscape – demonstrating that art today is of an interdisciplinary nature and that in the 21st Century our cultural voices matter in ways and means that are urgent unlike ever before.

In our 21st Century world, we find artists working with all kinds of knowledge and know-how. In Vietnam, we find artists working with traditional artisans in the revival of age-old technique and meaning (Bui Cong Khanh); we find artists working with commercial businesses to create artworks that speak about environmental responsibility (Uudam Tran Nguyen); we find artists working with animal wildlife organizations concerned about exploitation and extinction (Tuan Andrew Nguyen); we find artists building space to self organize, to gather and exchange and make (think San Art, Art Labor, Hanoi Doclab, Nha San and so many more) whose committed presence and responsive methods have galvanized the development of a critically thinking artistic and internationally-connected local cultural community.

Further afield, we have artists working with architects (think of Ai Weiwei’s collaboration with Herzog and De Meuron in the creation of the 2008 Olympic Games ‘Bird Nest’ in China); artists working with designers (think of Yayoi Kusama and her collaboration with Louis Vuitton); artists working with environmental policy makers (think Martha Atienza and her raising awareness of plastic consumption on the Bantayan Islands); or artists working with technology (think Forensic Architecture hired by the Lebanese government to visually map the data of a zillion images taken before the horrifying port blasts of 2020) – this list is endless! These are the game-changers of the art world and such interdisciplinary thinking is presenting exciting and innovative artistic encounters across the globe. Within Vietnam, The Factory seeks to raise awareness and nurture this kind of ethos – encouraging our community to think ‘outside the box’ when it comes to thinking about what art can be today.

Granted funds for the production of new work towards solo exhibition showcase at The Factory, this ‘Artist Excellence Award’ arose in response to our particular local cultural landscape in Vietnam that is with little supportive infrastructure.

Our educational curricula does not embrace contemporary art (indeed it stops at around 1940, with the exception of including social realist histories); our museums are state-funded with little accessibility for in-depth research; our commercial gallery system largely tailors for the tourist market (and thus artists encouraged to create what will sell); our Cultural Ministry approving only what does not go against their guidelines (which are vague and open to interpretation in favour of the State).

But in the face of all this obstacle we have a growing entrepreneurial youth, many educated abroad, financially enabled and with increasing interest in culture, particularly their own culture and its meaning, on not only a local and international stage, but within interdisciplinary networks. Vietnam has also, since the late 1980s, possessed a dynamic and innovative collaborative arts scene who independently support and nurture each other via the creation of collectively-run art spaces, residencies and other alternate models of survival. In the last decade, Vietnam’s contemporary artists have also gained significant international attention. This has brought increased opportunity for our community to expand their perspectives on what constitutes artistic purpose and contemporary practice today.

As an arts institution, we at The Factory have asked ourselves how we can promote national recognition for the artists of our scene who we believe deserve broader recognition? What can hopeful local collectors (who express their desire to collect), turn towards to measure success and value, with such little comparative benchmark in our local? It is within this vein that the ‘Artist Excellence Award’ has been established, to offer a means of awarding ‘excellence’ as not only the skill of technique and materiality (which is incredibly necessary), but to also highlight how the care of stories, community and cause is of equal determination in the valuing of an artistic practice.

With a select group of nominators from across Vietnam (curators, artists, historians); a jury panel with international reputation, expertise and affiliations; and generous sponsors, supporters and media partners from within Vietnam and our region – The Factory hopes such diverse community will prompt further constructive and competitive support of our local artistic community.


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