Nghệ thuậtBàn tròn "Mĩ thuật đương đại Việt Nam đang ở đâu" |
Bùi Hoài Mai
Talawas round table "Contemporary Vietnamese art in the international context"
Natasha's opinion is good and provided more details for Nora's opinion. In fact, no art stays apart from politics (here I'd like to mention real art works). On the other hand, there are art works which are worthless because they are used to illustrate or to campaign coarsely for political issues. Surely Natasha have experienced this like many in the same situation. In a society full of political restrictions and strict censorship, an artist has to shun away from countless restrictions, but this does not mean there is no hidden truth inside. Those very hints prove the artist's talent and increase the work's attractiveness. This is a big and rather subtle issue, especially when it is examined in the specific language of painting. And I am afraid that the roundtable would need much more time for people to discuss and get a better understanding. Maybe this issue could be discussed easier in the literature field. I believe Nguyen Huy Thiep'message more than Duong Thu Huong's message, although they may be of the same nature. Nguyen Huy Thiep's "political issue" seems more "real" than Duong Thu Huong's. Because he is a talented writer. Using Natasha's words, I consider him the artist with "real will" who "would explore the direct political critical issues in art," different from "liars trying to build up their career pleasing definite western interests." To continue Natasha's pretty fair idea answering Mai Chi's question why the Vietnamese artists don't touch moral or sexual taboos, here I recognize a more interesting issue from these questions. Originated from trends of contemporary art, these questions are a simplification or formalization of two major trends in the West: "critical aesthetics" and "liberal aesthetics."
"Critical aesthetics" recognizes the bell toll of death of individualism; and like individuality, art disappears; it disappears not because that it finishes it role but because rationalism, started with Plato, then Hegel and Comte, has dominated our century. Totalitarianism of production is established in advanced industrialized societies with the consensus surrounding history, in which art is simply a criticism of itself, and it is the subject for the ruling/mainstream system to mystify, to commercialize and to unify it by all means. This aesthetic trend is a reaction in order to escape the negative and utopian dimension of art by the very negation and criticism (art as the act of criticizing all current existences). It forms a dark verdict of modernism. We can find the representative of the above aspects in the work of aestheticism by Walter Benjamin, when the halo accompanying with art works is destroyed by the worshiping, by the separation with the common, and is exploited in the production world by the exchange and mass production of the original. Other representatives are Th. W. Adorno (1903-1969), Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979), etc. This is an aesthetic trend which gives people a feeling of hopelessness. Thus we have to agree with Benjamin: "Because of the hopeless people, hope is brought here to us."
Another powerful trend of modern aesthetics is "libaral aesthetics," which is not "chained" by creativity influenced by Spinoza's philosophy. It destroys the small path of subjectivity by freeing one's desires. Mikel Dufrenne (Art and politics - Paris 1974), using the Nature concept, proposed the aesthetics of desires, of freedom of imagination, of inspiration, of spontaneity, of re-establishment of art, of joy of creativity, of utopian habit... And contemporary art has brought us these experiences. People like events more than art works; the public wants to participate in games, and they like festivals; people like to change every day life in order to add some imagination, some fantastic romanticism and a little craziness. Here it marks the exhaustion of theory and it is considered the triumph of the democratic individualism (Era of emptyness - Gallimard 1993), and art is only the individual interest; aesthetic values disappear because there are no longer any common rules as well as consensus.
Besides Nora and Natasha's answers to Mai Chi's questions about the lack of participation of Vietnamese artists in the world art, how many percentages of this contemporary art world with its aesthetic systems exist in Vietnam, a country maybe for the first time in history starts (but not for sure) to come out of the chronic hunger, with an industry and commercial market worse than the Western countries in the 19th century. I don't think Vietnamese artists are "benign," "harmless;" but for them, to "rebel" or cause a "scandal" against what? Against the farmers trying to take care of their rice patches in order not to be hungry in the next year? If "rebel," then maybe against the Western multi-national incorporates which take advantage of the poverty and ignorance. America wants to sell Coca-Cola to Vietnamese farmers but does not want to buy their shrimps.
© 2003 talawas