Monday, 28 November 2011

Why don't don't tourists come back to Vietnam?

Zoe Butt, the curator of San Art was generous enough to join us as our speaker last week.  Over the next hour, she drew the link between contemporary art, expression, isolation, and even the low rate of visitors to Vietnam.

 What I found most interesting was her observation that it wasn't govt. regulation that was stifling artists (at least directly), but self-censorship as artists simply avoided risky topics or making statements that would challenge social mores.  Over time, she noted that this has created a culture of conventional thinking.

Highlighting the educational system as an integral part of the machine, she discussed the lack of conceptual and analytical thinking as well as the notion that Vietnamese artists were becoming isolated from what else exists in the world.  This was interesting, that at a time when we are more connected than ever, there was less interest in actively engaging with the art community at large.  What about for the sake of inspiration?  Technique?  Or just interest and gaining new perspective?

She highlighted that contemporary art wasn't political, but that it was about exploring new expression.  And that a key area where the art conversation here in Vietnam needs to focus is the intent of the artist rather than just style or focusing on elements of the art.

All in all, a thrilling hour and it inspired me to think about what I can do to support expression here in Vietnam.  See you at the next one!

-George

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