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This series of panel discussions will engage the landscape of experimental contemporary art practice in Vietnam, since 1975, inviting key figures from across the country – artists, art dealers, collectors and arts workers – to share their experience and motivation, to further unpack the ongoing dilemmas faced in Vietnam, which sorely lacks supportive cultural infrastructure.

Vietnam in the late 1990s: Discovering new media, new bodies, new space
Trần Thị Huỳnh Nga, Ly Hoàng Ly, Richard Streitmatter-Trần
Moderated by Bill Nguyen

What was it like to be an artist in late 1990s Southern Vietnam? What were the catalysts for thinking ‘experimentally’? How did artists support each other in their desire to work with new media, their own bodies and the creation of space for such art? How has the landscape changed – are we now with a more open and critically-thinking artistic community that supports experimental practice? What are we still lacking?

11.45am – 1.15pm
I’m an artist and I curate
Trần Lương, Trương Quế Chi and Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng
Moderated by Arlette Quỳnh-Anh Trần

The concept of ‘curating’ manifested in North Vietnam, largely through the activities of Nhà Sàn  – artists in Hanoi working together to create events that are often conceptual experiments, working with visual artists, musicians, filmmakers, literary wonders and much more. Nhà  Sàn Studio became Nhà Sàn Collective, and a second generation of this community took the helm. What are the intergenerational differences in approach with the telling of such stories inside Nhà Sàn? What triggered the need to ‘curate’? Can we consider ‘curating’ a ‘medium’ for artists (in the same way we might refer to sculpture or painting)?

2.30 – 4pm
Can commercialism support experimentation?
Suzanne Lecht, Quỳnh Phạm and Tuấn Andrew Nguyễn
Moderated by Zoe Butt

Has the market for art in Vietnam been a positive influence on its development? What is the responsibility of the art dealer to the artist when it comes to experimentation within an artist’s practice? What are some of the dilemmas dealers face in supporting artists with the lack of cultural infrastructure in Vietnam?

4.15 – 5.30pm
Does Vietnam care about audiences for art?
Trần Lương, Natasha Kraevskaia and Nguyễn Thế Thanh
Moderated by Zoe Butt

Do artists care about their art having an audience? Is exhibition-making necessary or are there other ways of an artist becoming ‘visible’? Is it important to have established spaces for culture as a part of contemporary society? What legacies of friendship exist, who think and act as entrepreneurs in the creation of formal autonomous entities, who have successfully bridged the divide between public and private domains of art?

5.30 – 6.00pm
Summary reflections of the day
Lee Weng-Choy


This public program is arranged in association with ‘Spirit of Friendship’, a survey exhibition highlighting the role and contribution of artist friendships in furthering the development of experimental art practice in Vietnam. As an educational display, this introductory exhibition gives recognition to how ‘friendship’ continues to further the testing and encouraging of ideas among artists, beyond what was officially understood, taught, or predominantly exhibited in Vietnam at that time, believing their art worthy of more than catering to ideological/formal and touristic (commercial) demand.

22 artist-groups are featured in this exhibition: Gang of Five | Group of 10 | Salon Natasha | Hanoi Triad | Nhà Sàn | a little little blah blah | Wonderful District | Zenei Gang of Five | The Propeller Group | HanoiLink | Sàn Art | OM | New Space Arts Foundation | Hanoi Doclab | Hanoi-Saigon Sculpture Group | Phụ Lục | Chaap Collective | Art Labor | Then Group | XEM | Sao La | Chaosdowntown

‘Spirit of Friendship’ is on view until 26 November at The Factory. Please visit the dedicated website for this exhibition and ongoing research platform: www.spiritoffriendship.org