Artist collective, ‘Art Labor’, share their ‘JUA’ project – examining the occurrence of Robusta coffee in Vietnam, and rice production in French Camargue – fascinated with not only how these resources reflect colonial habits of pleasure and survival, but also the impact of foreign introduced plants to indigenous habitats and the current global farming exploitation. This is the third journey of Art Labor’s practices, and the second working in Vietnam’s Central Highlands – a region rich with coffee growers.
‘The curiosity began when we tried to understand the debt cycle of Vietnamese farmers, more specifically our parents who are coffee growers on the bygone forestland of the Central Highlands. From jungle supplanting, botany systemization in farming to immigrant movements (due to war / later to post-war and Doi Moi economic policies), displacement of materials means also a displacement of human labor. Thus we start our agrarian journey by tracing a two-way historical route : the import of Robusta coffee trees by French colonials to Vietnam; and the rice farming by the công binh (Indochinese workers) in French Camargue. While the French brought Robusta to Vietnam in order to continue their beverage pleasure (with hope to earn benefit from its plantation), the Vietnamese công binh were moved from their villages to aid World War II efforts in France, soon finding a way to grow rice so as to escape starvation. The journey lingers until the current situation of Robusta cultivation and its visibility in the global market.’
This history – which has seen Art Labor undertake research in France and Vietnam – came together as a 1-day ‘preliminary exhibition’ at Thảo Cầm Viên (Saigon Botanical Garden and Zoo) on the 28 July, showcasing painting, sculpture, video and interactive zones for community participation. This zoo, one of the oldest in the world, was also the greenhouse to cultivate seedlings for potential crops such as rubber, coffee, sugarcane and mango.
Join us to learn more about these intertwined histories and the prevalence of ‘green colonialism’ – an issue also of investigation in The Factory’s upcoming exhibition ‘Necessary Fictions’.
Art Labor is an artist collective based in Ho Chi Minh City, who work between visual arts, social and life sciences in order to produce alternative non-formal knowledge via artistic and cultural activities in various public contexts and locales. It includes 3 core members as cultural workers: artists Phan Thảo Nguyên, Trương Côn Tùng and curator/writer Arlette Quỳnh-Anh Trần.
Art Labor collective started their journey in 2012, when three old friends decided to move back to Saigon (officially known as Ho Chi Minh City). Thao-Nguyen, Cong Tung & Arlette founded Art Labor in response to the assumed difficulty of working collaboratively, within interdisciplinary areas, in Vietnam. Since inception, Art Labor have been working with many collaborators – from anthropologists, filmmakers, curators, writers, archivist, artists to ophthalmologists, patients, farmers, artisans and entrepreneurs. Each project is considered an experiment to test the boundaries of art, in terms of exhibition forms, exhibition venues, artists’ role, curating limit, value and appreciation of art in society.
➖Adutl: 100,000VND (online); 130,000VND (at door)
➖Student (with appropriate ID): 40,000VND
*Participants of the event allow The Factory and co-organizer (if applicable) to use their images and statements as documentary for the program, for non-commercial purposes such as: archive, press, media, promotion on our website, Facebook etc