Nghệ thuậtBàn tròn "Mĩ thuật đương đại Việt Nam đang ở đâu"
Veronika Radulovic, Văn Sáng
Talawas round table "Contemporary Vietnamese art in the international context"
I agree with Tuan's remark that Vietnamese art(ists) needs air and open doors. Both are uncertain and unclear components, without any directions.
Natasha, you asked me about the students and what they are doing after leaving the artschool, prepared with a limited contemporary input. I am part of a dialog, that´s it. They shall go their own way, not my way, or ours. They are in a process which isn't completed yet. I am a point. We might touch or share our ideas for a while, nothing more. Students and artists are free to move from one point to another point. They don´t have to follow my ideas of art, just because my role as a teacher. Not everything is malleable and determinable according to artistic-rules and marketing laws. All other things would be dogmatism and confessed doctrine.
I don´t know a solution. The proposals to solution, the questions which already fallen in our discussion, frightens me. I wonder: Is it really so simple? We observe, doing a research...and then? Someone requires a surgical operation, a critic and another one a progress in art language and Mr. Kazumi points to the uncertainty (confusion) of the Vietnamese artists. My confusion as well. Yes, I would like to underline: I am an artist, not a critic or observer or historian. I feel free with a confused mind.
Isn´t it confusion the most creative energy? The doubts and the questions. Specially after a long period of clear defined education and way of thinking and living we should have much more confusion. Perhaps the solution is despair. Artists are never being simply observed. Hopefully they are unpredictable dangerous.
Mai Trang, how wonderful was your sincere and honest contribution. Yes, I would like to repeat your question: how many of us can feel this "vietnameseness"? But I don´t know how to answer your last question: initiation and a firm self control. I am not sure if I understand you in a right way. You mention another important point which remained unconsidered till now. The lacking responsibilty of the artists. Under marketing points of view many vietnamese artists have taken responsibility into their hand. As for political and personal articulation, only some. Coming back to Minh Ha once again. She is a woman and the idea of female art has been mentioned. And the aspect of biographie and personal responsibility seems to be more distinctive in female art as in the male dominated international art world. And this seems to be very important to me. It doesn´t matter where we are: inside or outside a nation. Minh Ha express it.
And about our discussion, because Hung mentioned it: we are in a free and open discussion forum. Hung, why disappointed? Everything is possible, and we are just at the beginning. And, my goodness, who creates famous names? I am an artist like all the others. In Vietnam I got a special status. Many foreigners working in Vietnam or organizing exhibitions get this special status. I think it´s a problem, but not my problem. More criticism opposite the foreigners would be appropriate!
Great words were spoken again and again: re-educate themselve, unfortunate art body, swamp etc. Excuse me, your criticism just contains this marsh etc. I cannot follow the demand to see and analyse deeply the problems of vietnamese art. Uptonow we have just talked about a mass, called vietnamese artists in this case. Vietnamese art consists of most different artists, especially in times of political changes and the so-called niches. We talk very rarely about one artist, and this seems to be a problem for me. The collectivization of the Vietnamese society, the understanding about collectiv, about individual. When I talk about art then I want to talk about a person. And when I say something, this is my private opinion and doesn't represent any other German. In Vietnam they mostly talk about the mass, the group, the collectiv. The individual doesn't exist the way it does in Europe. In the case of Minh Ha we talked about her, this is an important difference.
I think (and this touchs the thoughts of Huy): if there is a strong individual artist like Nguyen Minh Thanh for example, many artists will follow and want to be like him. Nobody wants to be alone in Vietnam.
Van Sang (from the audience):
I am a painting worker (tho ve), graduated from the
Art university, specialized in production of pictures of buffalos (from realist buffalos to surrealist buffalos, recently somebody recommended Upsidedownism of Nguyen Dai Giang, I tried to paint buffalos with horns growing out of the belly, and selled it instantly with a high price) and pictures of girls (starting with copying To Ngoc Van, and then copying everything, which has some "Vietnameseness"). Prices of buffalos pictures are higher then these of girls pictures, around 100-500 USD a piece. Everyday I paint 1-2 pieces, my averaged income is about 4000 USD. I have a very stable life. My son is studying at the Art university. Noone has buyed his art, but I consider him a real artist, not a painting worker like me. This is an introduction to your round table and to say that I follow the round table with a great joy. I want to share some thoughts:
First, art buyers now in Vietnam are solely foreigners or Viet Kieu, visitors of museums or exhibitions are also foreigners or people whose professions have to do with art, there is no other public. So if Vietnamese art is only an export and not serving domestic demand then it is natural that it has to confront the judgement of foreigners. It is like exporting rice: we cannot say like Nguyen Hung: it is too tiresome to talk endlessly about international rice versus national rice, it is another problem. Of course, there are many problems spreading around. But trying to ignoring foreigners while depending on them both materially and mentally is just illusory and not faire. If there were no foreigners, even "stupid" ones, then all Vietnamese artists are now cyclo drivers. Money has brought some freedom and some daring to us, today no one has to bow in front of a cupboard like Nguyen Sang in the past. Please don't talk about loosing dignity when we are producing commercial art. We painting workers don't have the ambition to re-write the art history of the world as Hoang Ngoc Tuan wished. We are also not the danger of our national art. On the contrary, in the past "real" artists lost their dignity because poverty forced them to flatter the state, politics and burocratic relationships. Our commercial art is hundred time freer from sin then propaganda art. Long live foreigners!
Second: Nguyen Nhu Huy demanded language for art. Art language is something that is not given, everybody has to discover for himself. In the trying process, sometimes there is success, sometimes not. Even for me, I don't try to invent new things, just "re-use" existing things, but only after some time I get skilled. So, if there is no naturalness, no true understanding, etc. at the beginning of using new languages then it is obvious. The demand to be perfect instantly would be a burocratic demand and it can discourage those who want to experiment. For me, if a person using a new language has no success then his defeat is still nobler then the defeat of a person using a classic language like oil. I think experimenting people, if at times appearing embarrassing, are still more likeable then those who don't dare to try anything new, even to get rich with commercial art, like us painting workers.
© Talawas 2002