little saigon smithsonian

January 27, 2007

Smithsonian exhibit focuses on Little Saigon

“Exit Saigon, Enter Little Saigon” is new Smithsonian exhibit curated by UCI professor.

The “Exit Saigon, Enter Little Saigon” exhibit opened last week at the Smithsonian S. Dillon Ripley Center in Washington, D.C. The exhibit tells the story of the Vietnamese American experience in America, from the significant influx in 1975 to today.

CHUCK KENNEDY, MCCLATCHY TRIBUNE


The Orange County Register

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Vu Pham knew as he assembled an exhibit on the exodus of the Vietnamese after the fall of Saigon that he would be judged by the very people whose experiences he was documenting, including many in Orange County.

“It was a tougher one to put together, because you’re dealing with living, breathing sources,” who each have a different take on the events, said Pham, who is the curator of “Exit Saigon, Enter Little Saigon,” which opened at the Smithsonian Institution on Jan. 19.

It is the first exhibit at the museum and in the nation to highlight the journey of Vietnamese who fled to the U.S. after communists took control of the country. In March, it will leave the S. Dillon Ripley Gallery and head out on a three-year tour across the United States.

Pham, 34, is a professor of Asian-American studies who teaches at UC Irvine and UCLA. He is also linked to the exodus personally: He was born in Vietnam and his family came to the U.S. after Saigon fell.

While he hadn’t assembled an exhibit before, Pham said his status as an expert on the event was what got him hired.

“There aren’t too many people with my specialty,” he said. “It’s not that I have this wealth of experience, but that I’m a rarity in terms who’s there and has studied this subject.”

Since 1975, more than 150,000 Vietnamese-Americans have settled in Orange County, making it one of the largest enclaves in the country.

A sense of this Vietnamese-American community is laid out on the walls of the quiet gallery that is part of the Smithsonian Institution. There are photos of immigrants being loaded onto helicopters – eyes filled with fear and uncertainty. In grainy film footage, emaciated immigrants wave for help from ships in rough seas – adrift and seeking a home.

Next to images of struggle are pictures of happier times in a new land. They show immigrants in well-known American settings: boys in Cub Scout uniforms, families marching in Fourth of July parades and a man in a cowboy hat waving an American flag.

It also highlights the sense of tension that can exist as younger generations are raised in a culture distinctly different from that of those who came before them. The exhibit showcases barriers such as language and the outside influences of a foreign culture.

“We wanted to show community building,” Pham said. “We wanted to show daily life and that forming a community takes many different people.”

Prominent community leaders from Orange County also have a place in the exhibit. On the wall are life-size cutouts of Tony Lam, the first Vietnamese-American to be elected to public office (he was a member of the Westminster City Council), and Frank Jao, a prominent real-estate developer.

Lam, who escaped before communist forces took Saigon, said he is happy that the exhibit documents the Vietnamese experiences, both good and bad.

“The history that is there will not be washed away,” he said. “We are a part of history. We came here as a mixed bag of people; however, we worked hard, raised children, and sought education to be successful.”

Jao said he took pride in seeing his story and those of others being featured.

“I am very humbled and proud that it was recognized to the rest of the country,” he said of his achievements. “That means that I have to do more to deserve such an honor.”

Contact the writer: 202-628-6381 or mharris@ocregister.com

Vietnamese America’s Pride at Smithsonian


Phil Tajitsu Nash, Jan 26, 2007

Thirty years ago, Vietnamese Americans entered the American consciousness as people climbing into helicopters to flee their country, refugees in camps scattered across Asia, or babies being airlifted to the United States. Today, they are legislators, scientists and every other profession imaginable. They live in large and small enclaves in California, northern Virginia and all corners of the country.

Last Thursday, Dr. Franklin Odo, director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program, and leaders from the government, corporate and nonprofit communities welcomed the Vietnamese American community to the opening of Exit Saigon, Enter Little Saigon, the first Vietnamese American historical exhibition at the Smithsonian.

The exhibit tells the story of the Vietnamese American experience, from the significant influx in 1975 to the present.

The exhibit, curated by Dr. Vu Pham, will be open to the public from Jan. 19 to April 1. It will then travel the country for three years. For more info, visit www.apa.si.edu/VietAm.

Last Thursday’s gala opening was hosted by CNN anchor Betty Nguyen, and featured members of Congress, Vietnamese American community leaders from all across the nation, Vietnam War veterans, and some of the individuals who are subjects of the exhibition. The reception was held in the red sandstone Smithsonian Castle. It featured tours of the exhibition itself, which is located at the Concourse Gallery in the Smithsonian’s S. Dillon Ripley Center.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Senator James Webb (D-Va.), and Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) congratulated the Vietnamese American community for their achievements and in helping America become a richer and more diverse country. One of the most touching moments of the opening ceremony was when Senator Webb, a Vietnam War veteran, addressed the crowd in Vietnamese. Now married to a Vietnamese American, his victory last November could not have happened without the strong support of APA communities. Other dignitaries in attendance included James V. Kimsey, founding CEO of AOL, shoe designer Taryn Rose, famous Vietnamese actress Kieu Chinh, Project Runway winner Chloe Dao, Frank Jao, founder of Little Saigon in Orange County, Calif., fashion designer Bao Tranchi, and Long and Kimmy Nguyen, founders of the Vietnamese American Heritage Endowment at the Smithsonian. Sheila Burke, Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the Smithsonian, praised Dr. Odo’s Asian Pacific American Program as leading the way at the Smithsonian to attract diverse audiences.

The exhibition pulled together the threads of history and mixed them with enough human interest stories, glitzy artifacts and heartwarming photos to appeal to a wide range of museum visitors.

A broad cross-section of the local and national Vietnamese American and APA communities wore formal wear and traditional Asian garments as they listened to the speeches, enjoyed the catered food, and wandered through the exhibition itself. A “Welcome to Little Saigon” highway sign, replica of a resettlement camp barrack and pho noodle shop counter, were combined with high fashion dresses created by Vietnamese American designers and life-size photo images of Vietnamese American pro football players, entertainers, entrepreneurs and public officials.

The spirit of community pride and determination to pass their story on to future generations was best exemplified by the hundreds of thousands of dollars raised by the Vietnamese American Heritage Project’s D.C. Working Group. This money funded the costs of the 30th anniversary exhibition that just opened, and will be used to build a million dollar endowment fund to fund future programs at the Smithsonian that honor the Vietnamese American contribution to America.

So far, over $500,000 has been raised since the project started two years ago to help create the exhibit and to start the Smithsonian endowment. Leadership gifts came from Long and Kimmy Nguyen of Pragmatics Inc., the Viet Heritage Society Inc., Quan Hoang, the Citigroup Foundation, and I. Reid Inc. At the VIP opening reception, Frank Jao, real estate developer, pledged $100,000 toward the endowment. He was followed by others, including a $25,000 challenge grant from Long and Kimmy Nguyen. The crowd met the challenge in a few minutes and by the end of the evening, the project raised $170,000 toward the project and the endowment.

‘People told me that they were donating for the sake of their children and future generations,” said Dr. Vu Pham, project director of the Smithsonian Vietnamese American Heritage Project. “The project teaches youth about their rich heritage and helps create a more accurate and positive image of Vietnamese Americans for all visitors to the Smithsonian.”

“If the Vietnamese Americans are successful in raising the $1 million endowment, they will be the first of any Asian Pacific American community group to do so at the Smithsonian. This is remarkable given that they are also the most recent Asian Pacific American immigrants to this country,” said Francey Youngberg, development consultant to the Smithsonian APA Program.

To find out how you can make a donation, or to find out about educational materials and how you can bring the exhibition to your city, visit www.vietam.org


Reach Phil Tajitsu Nash at asianweek@nashinteractive.com.

 

CNN Anchor Visits Smithsonian For “Exit Saigon, Enter Little Saigon” Exhibit

On Friday, January 19, on CNN Newsroom, anchor Betty Nguyen reported live from the “Exit Saigon, Enter Little Saigon” exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute. The exhibit is the first Vietnamese-American historical exhibit at the Smithsonian. “Exit Saigon, Enter Little Saigon” tells the story of the Vietnamese experience in America , from their significant influx in 1975 after the fall of Saigon to the present. Nguyen, whose own family fled Vietnam and found refuge at Camp Pendleton , will be featured in the exhibit as the first Vietnamese-American anchor for a national news network. She is joined by other accomplished Vietnamese Americans who include actress Kieh Chinh (Joy Luck Club), Chloe Dao (winner of Project Runway), and Tom Lam (the first Vietnamese-American elected official).

Nguyen’s inclusion in the exhibit also highlights her philanthropic endeavors which include “Help the Hungry,” (www.help-the-hungry.org) an organization she co-founded which provides humanitarian relief to poverty-stricken families. Her philanthropic work earned her recognition in the Philanthropy in Texas Hall of Fame. Nguyen will emcee the Smithsonian’s VIP opening reception on Thursday, January 18.

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I am an emerging photographer currently based in Seattle & available internationally.

My first shoot was in August 2005; self-taught in Every aspect, I have come a long way in a short time. I’d like to say thanks to everyone who has ever supported me or cared enough about my work to comment or write to me.

I seek beauty & class, unique individuals who challenge me, & above all else those who live with passion…

Things I try to live by:

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  • never lose enthusiasm despite failure
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Focusing on an outstanding group of 100 photographs selected by the artist to exemplify more than a half century of work, The Photography of John Gutmann: Culture Shock examines the achievement of this unique and influential artist and considers his career in its historic context. The exhibition surveys Gutmann’s documentary work in Asia, Europe, and the United States during the 1930s and ’40s and includes classic images such as Death Stalks the Fillmore (1934). Gutmann’s photographs illustrate his personal adaptation of surrealism. He turned from recording the odd and the marvelous that presented itself to his gaze and began to experiment with inventing and constructing images. (left: John Gutmann, Jitterbug, New Orleans, 1937, Gelatin-silver print, The Capital Group Companies, Inc.)

Born in Germany in 1905 and trained as a painter, Gutmann took up photography in 1933 and supported himself as a photojournalist after emigrating to the United States. A student of the German expressionist painter Otto Mueller, Gutmann brought to the task of documenting his new surroundings a sensibility nurtured in the avant-garde circles of Berlin. He became fascinated by the popular culture of the United States-“all this bad taste here which, of course, I learned to love”-which he saw as evidence of “enormous vitality.” “I was seeing America with an outsider’s eyes-the automobiles, the speed, the freedom, the graffiti,” he explained in a 1989 interview, and his powerful images, which record “the almost bizarre, exotic qualities of the country,” established his reputation. Having settled in San Francisco, he helped link the West Coast to European modernism, inspiring later generations of photographers through his unique capacity to disclose the ambiguities and oddities within the commonplace. (right: John Gutmann, The Oracle, 1949, Gelatin-silver print, The Capital Group Companies, Inc.)

The fully illustrated catalogue accompanying the exhibition features an introduction by Sandra S. Phillips, Curator of Photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Phillips explores two primary themes suggested by this unique selection of works from the Capitol Group collection. She compares Gutmann’s vision of American culture and the work of other photojournalists in such popular magazines as Life and Look. She also discusses Gutmann’s artistic development, elucidating continuities between his images of the ’30s and ’40s that document American vernacular culture and his personal surrealism of the 1950s. (left: John Gutmann, Mobile, Alabama, 1937, Gelatin-silver print, The Capital Group Companies, Inc.)

All photographs are lent by The Capital Group Companies, Inc. or The Capital Group Foundation. The Photography of John Gutmann: Culture Shock is organized and circulated by the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University. The exhibition has been made possible, in part, by generous support from The Capital Group Companies, Inc. and The Capital Group Foundation.

Amy Winehouse

January 26, 2007

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Amy Winehouse
Background information
Birth name Amy Jade Winehouse[1]
Born September 14, 1983 (age 23)
Origin England Enfield, Middlesex, England
Genre(s) Soul, R&B, Vocal jazz
Label(s) Island/Universal (2003 – present)
Website AmyWinehouse.co.uk

Amy Jade Winehouse (born September 14, 1983) is an English jazz/soul singer and songwriter. Her debut album, Frank (released in 2003) was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize and she won an Ivor Novello award in 2004 for her debut single “Stronger Than Me”. In 2006, after appearing in the British press for multiple alcohol-related incidents, she released her second album, Back to Black.

Contents

[hide]

//

[edit] Biography

[edit] Early life

Winehouse was born into a family with a history of jazz musicians.[2] She grew up in the suburb of Southgate, North London, and attended Ashmole School. At around age 10, Winehouse founded a short-lived amateur rap group called Sweet ‘n’ Sour, as Sour. She described the group as “the little white Jewish Salt ‘n’ Pepa“.[3] She attended the Sylvia Young Theatre School aged 12 but was expelled at 13 for “not applying herself”.[4][3] She later attended the BRIT School in Selhurst, Croydon.

She grew up listening to a diverse range of music (from Salt ‘n’ Pepa to Sarah Vaughan) and received her first guitar aged 13.[5]

After her friend, soul singer Tyler James, gave her demo tape to an A&R person, she was discovered and began singing professionally at age 16.[2] She signed to her current record label, Island/Universal, under management company 19 Management.[3]

[edit] 2003 – 2004: Frank

Winehouse’s debut album, Frank, was released on October 20, 2003. It was produced mainly by Salaam Remi with many songs having jazz-influences and, apart from two covers, every song was co-written by Winehouse. The album received positive reviews[6][7] with compliments over the “cool, critical gaze” in its (sometimes explicit) lyrics[8] and brought comparisons of her voice to, amongst others, Sarah Vaughan[9] and Macy Gray.[8]

The album entered the upper levels of the UK album chart in 2004 when it was nominated for Brit Awards in the categories of “British Female Solo Artist” and “British Urban Act”. It went on to sell platinum.[10] Later in 2004, she won the Ivor Novello songwriting Award for “Best Contemporary Song” with her contribution to the first single, “Stronger Than Me” (alongside Salaam Remi).[11] The album also made the short list for the 2004 Mercury Music Prize. In the same year, she performed at the Glastonbury festival, on the Jazzworld stage, and at the V Festival.

After the release of the album, Winehouse commented that she was “only 80 per cent behind [the] album” because of the inclusion of certain songs and mixes she disliked by her record label.[2] Upon the release of her second album, she stated “I can’t even listen to Frank any more — in fact, I’ve never been able to. I like playing the tracks live because that’s different but listening to them is another story.”[12]

[edit] 2006: Back To Black

In early 2006, demonstration tracks such as “Wake Up Alone” and “Rehab” appeared on Mark Ronson‘s New York radio show on East Village Radio. These were some of the first new songs played on the radio since the release of “Pumps” and were both to appear on her second album.

[edit] Album release

Back to Black, Winehouse’s second album, was released on October 30, 2006, a little more than three years since the release of Frank. In an interview, Winehouse explained “After Frank I didn’t write for 18 months but when I met Mark I pretty much wrote the album in six months — he was so inspiring.”[12] In contrast to her jazz-influenced former album, Winehouse’s focus is described as “shifting to the girl groups of the Fifties and Sixties”.[13] The eleven-track album was produced entirely by Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson, with the production credits being split between them almost equally.

Rehab single cover

Rehab single cover

The first single released from the album on October 23, 2006 was the Ronson-produced “Rehab“, a song about her past refusal to attend an alcohol rehabilitation centre after it was encouraged by her management company.[12] She left the management company after this incident.[14] On October 22, 2006, based solely on download sales, it entered the UK Singles Chart at No. 19 and when the CD single was released the following week, it climbed to No. 7. On 14 January 2007, the album rose one spot from #2 to reach the #1 position on the UK Album Chart.

In early October 2006, Winehouse’s official website was re-launched with a new layout and clips of previously unreleased songs.[10] She appeared in an interview with Jools Holland on BBC Radio 2 on October 2, 2006 and was a guest on Later with Jools Holland on November 3, 2006. Winehouse performed three headline gigs in September 2006 and in November 2006 performed another ten across the UK, including headlining one of the Little Noise Sessions charity concerts at the Union Chapel, Islington. She is scheduled to headline another fourteen gigs over February 2007 – March 2007. On November 9, 2006 Winehouse announced she had been approached by one of the producers of the James Bond movies to sing the main theme of Bond 22.[15]

The second single from the album was “You Know I’m No Good“. The single was released on January 8, 2007 with a remix featuring rap vocals by Ghostface Killah. It made #18 in the UK singles chart and, in the same week’s chart, “Rehab” climbed back up to #20.

On the December 31, 2006, Winehouse appeared on Jools Holland’s Annual Hootenanny and performed a cover of Marvin Gaye‘s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” along with Paul Weller and Hollands’ Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. She also performed Toots and the Maytals‘ “Monkey Man”.

[edit] Personal life

During the promotional phase of the album, Winehouse appeared repeatedly in the British press over personal issues. In September 2006, Winehouse was reported to have dropped four dress sizes because of comments made to her about her size.[16] In an interview in The Daily Telegraph Magazine (September 16, 2006), when asked if this was the cause she replied “No. No. I don’t listen to anyone except my … inner child anyway. If someone had said to me, Amy, lose a stone – which they wouldn’t – I don’t think I would have listened anyway.”

In the same month, The Independent published Winehouse is a clinically diagnosed manic depressive who refuses to take medication.[17] In October 2006, Winehouse admitted to have previously been affected by eating disorders. “A little bit of anorexia, a little bit of bulimia. I’m not totally OK now but I don’t think any woman is.”[18]

Over the next two months, Winehouse made multiple appearances in the British tabloids over alleged alcohol-induced behaviour. This included a ‘drunken’ appearance on The Charlotte Church Show (which appeared on YouTube),[19] heckling U2 member Bono during an acceptance speech at the Q Awards,[20] and incidents where she allegedly assaulted a fan after a concert[21][22] and an attendee at her album launch party.[23] When questioned during an interview about being violent when drunk, Winehouse responded “I have a really good time some nights, but then I push it over the edge and ruin my boyfriend’s night. I’m an ugly dickhead drunk, I really am.”[22]

On November 16, 2006 she appeared on Never Mind The Buzzcocks and faced repeated comments from host Simon Amstell that she should get a grip on what he claimed were her alcohol and drug problems. On January 7, 2007 Winehouse ended a gig at G-A-Y part way through her first song after vomiting, reportedly as a result of being intoxicated.[24]


Chow Yun Fat 1

There’s been a great non-selfish trend sweeping through the Hong Kong entertainment and “Richie Rich” community. Ever since the “Oracle of Omaha” and world’s second richest man, Warren Buffett, announced his intention last year to donate US$37 billion of his wealth to charity, there’s been a domino effect in, of all places, Hong Kong.

Shedding the generational notion of dynastic inheritance, a few wealthy, high profile individuals have also announced their intention to donate a large portion of their accumulated wealth to charities including tycoon Li Ka-shing and superstar Jackie Chan who committed half of his property after his death.

And now the “Killer” has turned into Mr. Softee. Hong Kong veteran actor Chow Yun-Fat is planning to donate his fortune to charity after he passes away.

Chow says that he and his wife have no plans to have a child after their attempts at having a child ended in a miscarriage. As for his roughly US$130 million property, the 52-year-old actor says that they plan to donate all their money to charity. He says that since the fortune was given by the society, it was natural to use it for the good of the society.

Good for him. This is a trend worth reporting on.

Viet Art At Turning Point

January 26, 2007

Arts & Culture:

Updated:2007-01-25 16:13:21 MYT

Soon after Karen Ong moved to Hanoi on a job posting in 2003, she was lured by a landscape with a blood red sky.

It was a USD1,200 painting titled Ky Niem (Vietnamese for memory) by well-known Vietnamese artist Dao Hai Phong. She had spotted it in a little gallery while wandering around Hanoi’s Old Quarter.

Struck by its evocativeness, she had to buy it.

Ong, 30, a Singapore civil servant who returned home last year, recalls, “In the middle of the painting, there is a lone house under a big, blooming tree. It made me think of home, my past and everything I left behind to start a new chapter in my life in Vietnam.”

In a way, the Vietnamese art scene itself is also poised on the brink of a new chapter.

Once touted as the next big thing in the 1990s, it has been keeping a lower profile in recent years.

At the peak of the vogue for Vietnam, you could barely duck into a gallery here without seeing works by Vietnamese artists and their distinctive ink and gouache or lacquer works.

One reason for the popularity of Vietnamese art when it emerged was the fact that many artists were highly skilled in techniques and influences left behind by the French colonists.

In 2003, a bumper crop of Vietnamese modern masterpieces were auctioned off at Sotheby’s here to record prices. Among them, Le Pho’s (1907-2001) painting Mother And Child sold for USD184,500.

Since then, the hype has died down somewhat.

Eclipsed by the fantastic boom of the Chinese and Indian contemporary art markets, Vietnamese art prices have increased at a relatively slower pace.

Mok Kim Chuan, Sotheby’s specialist in charge of Southeast Asian paintings here, says that–allowing for huge variations depending on artists, styles, media and sizes–many contemporary Vietnamese art pieces fetch between USD5,000 and USD12,000 on the block these days.

This compares with the hundreds of thousands of dollars which paintings by comparable Chinese and Indian artists fetch.

Jasdeep Sandhu, owner of Gajah Gallery in Hill Street, says prices for the Vietnamese artworks he deals in hover around the USD5,000 mark.

He became interested in the country’s art 10 years ago, and still makes monthly trips there to “drink wine with my artists.”

But the Vietnamese art market hasn’t moved much in the last few years.

Gallery owners and art observers Life! spoke to agree that the lack of a proper arts infrastructure, such as a lack of good patrons of Vietnamese art and lack of government support for artists, is largely to blame.

Also, certain cliches of Vietnamese art–the delicate, elongated women in ao dai and conical hats; breezy landscapes and exotic street scenes–have become so ubiquitous and popular with tourists and collectors that artists are loathe to change a formula that works.

Unfortunately, it has also contributed to the sense of deja vu that now clings to many of the commercial galleries’ offerings.

Sandhu puts it bluntly, “Younger artists are painting works similar to senior ones. They look like carbon copies, for about USD1,500. But you’re basically buying an artist who is very much influenced by another artist’s style.

“It’s just a cheap way to cover space on the wall. The artistic culture is absent from these types of work.”

The matter is complicated by Vietnam’s infamous “copy houses,” where masterpieces by local and foreign artists alike can be duplicated.

So rampant are these paintbrush-wielding copyright-infringers that The New York Times’ Southeast Asian correspondent Seth Mydans, wrote on Sept 9, 2001 about the cottage industry of fake Van Goghs, Picassos and Monets.

“It is possible, depending on the skill of the copier, to find a Mona Lisa looking as if she had just been sucking on a lemon or a Mona Lisa looking as if she had just been tickled,” he observed wryly, adding that actual galleries were struggling to differentiate themselves.

Dr Eugene Tan, director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Singapore, and a co-curator of the Singapore Biennale, feels that collectors are realising that Vietnamese art had stopped engaging with international discussions and ideas.

He says, “It had become a market largely fuelled by tourists, and not by serious collectors. Censorship has certainly played a part in this, as Vietnamese artists still face heavy censorship.”

He gives the example of the Saigon Open City exhibition, an art biennale-like event, which was due to open last month, but has yet to be granted a permit.

Pretty Women And Graffiti

Nevertheless, the climate surrounding Vietnamese art remains a vibrant, hopeful and exciting one.

This week, Sotheby’s Mok visited Vietnam to source for new artists to champion. Coincidentally, Jazz Chong, owner of Ode To Art Gallery at Raffles City Shopping Centre, was travelling separately on the same flight with the same purpose.

Tran Thi Anh Vu, owner of Particular Art Gallery in Ho Chi Minh City, says she sells between 10 and 15 artworks a month, mainly to Europeans, Americans, Hong Kongers and Singaporeans.

Ask her about young affordable Vietnamese artists in the market and she cites names like Hanoi’s Hoang Hai Anh, Tran Viet Phu, Doan Hoang Lam, and Ho Chi Minh City’s Limkhim Katy.

All of them are in the 30-35 age bracket and paint expressive oil works, priced in the region of USD1,000.

She adds that many artists branch out into installation, performance and graffiti, while focusing on social issues like Aids infection in their work.

“It is not completely true that it is all pretty women and landscapes,” she says.

Vietnam’s experimental artists include Nguyen Minh Phuoc, who is fast gaining international notice for his works.

These include an art performance in which he bound himself in red cord and stood among packs of paper currency for the dead. In another performance, he collaborated with impoverished street porters, who sat in a circle and wrote their dreams and aspirations on the back of the person in front.

Nguyen, 34, tells Life! that his brand of experimental, spontaneous art is not easily accepted in conservative Vietnam. He also laments the lack of government support and institutional training for artists who choose to strike out away from the established, academy-taught styles.

In 2004, he co-funded and set up a non-profit gallery, Ryllega, with fellow artist Vu Huu Thuy, to nurture young artists and link them to the international art community.

So far, the gallery has produced art books, set up exchange programmes and residencies, and even provided English training for its artists.

In short, it is helping to establish the kind of infrastructure needed to put the country’s art back into the spotlight.

Does this mean that Vietnamese art might soon fulfill its early promise?

He says, “After much endeavour by the artist community and our collective responsibility, we now have some light.” (By Clara Chow, The Straits Times/ANN)

http://www.edgarwright.co.uk/goodies.html