April 20, 2008

*SEARAC has no additional information about this opportunity. *

Project SEA (Southeast Asian) Art is an undergraduate research
project by a group of students at the University of California,
. The aim of the project is to gather, document and feature
the different forms of artistic expressions of second generation
Southeast Asian Americans of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, and
Hmong ancestry. In so doing, we hope to give voice, form and
resonance to the poetics and politics of young Southeast Asians in
America. Visual art works collected through this project will be
displayed at the UC Berkeley Southeast Asian graduation on May 24,
2008. We are also collaborating with the Southeast Asian Student
Coalition (SASC), who plan on compiling an anthology of selected
writings and literary expressions.

All forms of art – including literature, poetry, spoken word, music,
film, drawings, paintings, etc. – can be submitted for consideration.

The deadline for submission is May 1, 2008

Submissions may be mailed to:
Project SEA Art, 249 Cesar Chavez, Berkeley, CA 94720

Or, submissions may be emailed to the following email address:

To receive a submission form, please visit our website:
<http://projectseaar t.googlepages. com/home>http://projectseaar t.googlepages. com/home

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SEARAC (http://www.searac. org) is a national nonprofit organization working
to advance the interests of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans
through capacity building, advocacy, and education. SEARAC is proud to work
with a national network of over 180 Southeast Asian American grant-eligible
organizations accessible at http://www.searac. org/maa/.

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Project SEA (Southeast Asian) Art is an undergraduate research project by a group of students at the University of California, Berkeley.  The aim of the project is to gather, document and feature the different forms of artistic expressions of second generation Southeast Asian Americans of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, and Hmong ancestry. In so doing, we hope to give voice, form and resonance to the poetics and politics of young Southeast Asians in America.  Visual art works collected through this project will be displayed at the UC Berkeley Southeast Asian graduation on May 24, 2008.  We are also collaborating with the Southeast Asian Student Coalition (SASC), who plan on compiling an anthology of selected writings and literary expressions.

All forms of art – including literature, poetry, spoken word, music, film, drawings, paintings, etc. – can be submitted for consideration.

The deadline for submission is May 1, 2008

Submissions may be mailed to: Project SEA Art, 249 Cesar Chavez, Berkeley, CA 94720

Or, submissions may be emailed to the following email address:

To download the submission form, please click the following link: ProjectSEAart.doc

Paintings sold for less than $50 ten years ago now sell for more than $50,000. Nguyen Qui Duc, art curator and author, suggests why.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that art is big business in Vietnam. But a lot of money is changing hands in exchange for modern canvases, woodblock prints, or paintings on silk and the Vietnamese bark paper, giay. Gallery owners talk of selling individual works for tens of thousands of dollars, and some are financing frequent trips to the United States, Europe, and Asian cities such as Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo. Meanwhile, artists in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Hoi An are boasting about the houses they’re able to build for themselves as a result of their commercial success.

Country Girl 1 by Linh ($300)

Fishing 8 by Hoang Minh ($520)

The Country Girl 2 by Minh Phuong ($1200)

Nude 3 by Bich Ngoc ($190)

The explosion of the art market in Vietnam started a mere few years ago. The increasing number of tourists since the early 1990’s has a lot to do with the interest in Vietnamese art, particularly among visitors from japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other Asian countries. But awareness of Vietnamese art can be traced back to a handful of individuals who, for commercial and cultural reasons, have played major roles in putting Vietnamese art on the international map.
Among these individuals are scholars, journalists, critics and writers, such as Jeffrey Hantover of Asian Art News, the scholar Nora Taylor and journalist Zina Matlock. Their articles have had significant influences on the careers of Vietnamese artists and their sales figures. The owners of Gallerie la Vong in Hong Kong, devoted entirely to Vietnamese art, have published glossy coffee-table books that are considered by some to be the bibles on Vietnamese modern art. Others disagree, but nonetheless it’s thought that they have driven up the prices of Vietnamese art significantly.
The Smithsonian Institution and new Asia Review have devoted entire issues of their magazines to the arts in Vietnam. David Thomas, head of the Boston-based Indochina Arts Project, having had experience with putting together an exhibition of artwork by Vietnamese veterans, created a new show which was picked up by the Smithsonian. It’s been touring the U.S. under the title An Ocean Apart, a survey of Vietnamese art from the 1940s to today, including a small amount of work produced by Vietnamese now living in America. The Indochina Arts Project has also been bringing artists from Hanoi to the U.S. for visits and residencies lasting several months.

Peaceful 3 by Nguyen Van Bay ($300)

Minh Duc 7 by Minh Duc ($250)

In Vietnam, the critic/painter Nguyen Qhan and the poet Duog Tueng, both charming and both sporting the image of the archetypical Vietnamese intellectuals, have also been wielding much influence and gaining publicity through their contacts with Western media and cultural figures. Foreign owners and directors of galleries in Vietnam, such as Red River and Natasha in Hanoi, have been successful in creating attention for the artists they represent.

All the excitement – and hype – even prompted the New York Times to publish several stories about Vietnamese artists and their art; last year the paper ran a report about the heightened interest and rocketing prices.

But there is in fact good reason to be excited about contemporary art from Vietnam.

The French brought modern painting to Vietnam with the founding of the Fine Arts College of Indochina in Hanoi in 1925. until then the Vietnamese had focused primarily on village arts, which included woodblock printing, temple carvings and sculptures, and some brush painting learned from the Chinese. For 20 years the French teachers trained Vietnamese students in fundamental classicism, sometimes encouraging them to apply Western Techniques on traditional, native themes; the students, in turn, taught further generations in the art of painting.

Country Girl 1 by Linh ($300)

Vietnamese Girls 11 by Manh Phu ($300)

During the years Vietnam was at war with America, artist of the northern half of the country required to work within the limits of socialist realism and propaganda art. Until just a few years ago, nudes and abstract or freer figurative works. Today, artists work in all styles. Oil paintings on larger canvases are becoming more common, but many artists still produce exquisite pieces, using gouache on paper.

Among the artists currently doing exciting and popular works, a great many are Hanoi artists such as Dang Xuan Hoa, Hong Viet Dung, Tran Luong, Ha Tri Hieu, and Le Thiet Cuong. These are men in their late twenties and thirties, painting mostly oil-on-canvas abstracts and works depicting elements of Vietnamese traditional society with great styles and confidence. Few women are well-known, except for Dinh Y Nhi, a young graduate from Hanoi’s School of Fine Arts, fetching $500 to $1000 for black-and-white gouaches of whimsical yet harrowing stick figures. her prices may go up even further following recent exhibitions in France and Japan, and a stay at a prestigious California artist residency. Thanh Chuong, a former Hanoi graphic artist, paints vibrant self-portraits and village scenes both in gouaches and in oil. Most of his works starts at about $400. he recently produced hundreds of lithographs commissioned by a Korean representative of a large hotel chain. Le Quang Ha is another artist using vibrant colors to paint charming portraits, often with phallic lotus bouquets. Truong Tan, an openly gay man, has gained a measure of notoriety in recent years by painting men bound in tight ropes, and by adorning his works with English and French sentences confronting viewers with questions about AIDS and HIV.

In the south, works by Tran Trung Tin, Nguyen Trung and Buu Chi (a Hue art professor), are among the most interesting. Do Quang Em’s hyper-realist approach has supposedly earned him $20,000 to $60,000 per painting, usually oil portraits of his wife or sill-life with minimal elements in extremely somber light. Nguyen Quan’s oils of altars and disembodied womens’ heads appeal to Dada lovers, who pay up to $5,000 for a painting.

With so many artists and so many galleries, lovers of Vietnamese art often find it daunting to acquire the works. Tourists seeking a reminder of their Vietnam trip simply buy gouache renderings of Vietnamese country life, many under $100 or even less expensive, in small towns. The more serious collectors seek works by the masters such as Duong Bich Lien, Nguyen Tu Nghiem, Nguyen Sang, Hoang Tieh Chu and Bui Xuan Phai. These are among the first graduates of the College of Fine Arts, and their works are rare to find, with perhaps the exception of Nguyen Tu Nghiem’s. Bui Xuan Phai is undoubtedly the most well-known with his charming Hanoi street scenes. But the artist, who died in poverty in 1988, is also the most copied, since collectors will pay amounts almost impossible to imagine for paintings that ten years ago were being sold for less than $50.

New Le Thua 4 by Le Thua ($500)

LThua 4 by Le Thua ($500)

Gallery owners in Vietnam do a great deal to launch and promote their artists, and they’re known to weave the most interesting, sometimes-true stories around them. But stubborn art lovers will look past the hype, negotiate hard, and sometimes get very good prices by going directly to the artists. other art lovers still consider the great works available in Vietnam underpriced next to prices in the west, and will probably continue to help boost the art market in Vietnam.

Vietnamese paintings market warms up
14:34′ 06/09/2007 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnamese artists can now sell paintings for more than US$5,000 apiece making the local art market heat up compared to ten years ago when a painting sold for less than US$50, according to a gallery owner.

A painting named 'Champa Witch Doctor' by artist Bui Quang Anh is displayed at Tu Do Gallery. Anh is considered as a rising star in the HCMC art world because of his unique abstract style and because he only uses his hands to paint instead of using brushes.
A painting named ‘Champa Witch Doctor’ by artist Bui Quang Anh is displayed at Tu Do Gallery. Anh is considered as a rising star in the HCMC art world because of his unique abstract style and because he only uses his hands to paint instead of using brushes.

Tran Thi Thu Ha, who owns the Tu Do Gallery, the first private gallery in HCMC, told the Daily that it would not be an exaggeration to say that art is big business in Vietnam. A lot of money is changing hands for modern canvases, woodblock prints, and paintings on silk and Vietnamese bark paper.

She said the explosion in Vietnam’s art market started a few years ago. The increasing number of tourists since the early 1990’s has a lot to do with the interest in Vietnamese art, particularly among visitors from European countries and Asian countries like Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Many years ago, tourists bought Vietnamese paintings as souvenirs. However, now they come to Vietnam to buy paintings for their collections and to trade because they have begun to recognize the value of Vietnamese art.

“It is not only foreigners keen on Vietnam paintings, some local collectors and art enthusiasts have made a great contribution to the paintings market heat up,” Ha added.

Art critic Phan Cam Thuong said that many years ago 10% of paintings were sold in the domestic market. However, about 30% of paintings are now purchased by local clients.

Until just a few years ago, nudes, abstract or free figurative styles were not popular and works of nudes and abstract styles were banned from museums and exhibitions.

Today, artists work in all styles. Oil paintings on larger canvases are becoming more common, however, such as Dang Xuan Hoa, Hong Viet Dung, Tran Luong, Ha Tri Hieu and Le Thiet Cuong still produce exquisite pieces in the old style. In the north, Thanh Chuong and Pham Luc’s works are the best selling paintings on the market.

While in the south, Do Quang Em’s hyper realist approach has supposedly earned him US$20,000 to US$60,000 per painting. His works are usually oil portraits of his wife or life that are done with minimal elements in extremely somber light. “Now, Em’s paintings are hunted by many art collectors,” Ha said.

Sotheby’s and Christie’s auction houses have also recognized the value of Vietnamese art works and regularly sell paintings from contemporary and master Vietnamese artists.

Growing concerns

Although the local paintings market has warmed up, industry insiders still express concerns when galleries are opened that sell unauthorized paintings. Art critics say that copied paintings hurt the growing market in Vietnam because it makes collectors lose faith as well as affects market expansion.

Aside from the situation of the booming copied paintings market, traders and artists have not paid much attention to the marketing of art.

Artist Hoang Duc Toan, a member of the Vietnamese Fine Arts and Photography Association complained that traders and artists usually spent a small sum of money for exhibition advertisement because funds for marketing are limited.

Ha confided that her gallery has not spent much on exhibition activities as well as the paintings trade because marketing expenditure is small.

“At present, exhibition advertisement is mainly dependent on the free support of the local media,” she confided.

(Source: SGT)

Vietnamese painter’s book published in America


Two thousand copies of “Vision of War and Peace,” which features 87 paintings and sketches by a Vietnamese former soldier and visual artist, are released simultaneously in America and in Vietnam this September.

Huynh Phuong Dong’s 175-page book, which costs US$40, comprises of 109 pictures showing portraits of soldiers and guerrillas, scenes of battles and hard lives of soldiers during Vietnam War, between 1945 and 1975, and the period following peace.

Dong’s “Visions of War and Peace” is sponsored by American NGO Indochina Arts Partnership. This is the organization’s first book project to be published in America.

Dong is known for his extensive body of works: over 17,000 sketches, silk, gouache, and oil paintings, as well as wood, plaster, and bronze sculptures.

Source: Tuoi Tre – Translated by Ngoc Anh

Vinh Quoc Doan’s artwork makes its U.S. debut in Orange County



Vinh Quoc Doan’s art is serenely grounded in his Vietnamese heritage.

By Quyen Do, Special to The Times
November 21, 2007

THE gathering had the feeling of a family reunion, a kind of homecoming for Orange County’s large Vietnamese community. They gathered in a Westminster newspaper office to welcome legendary artist Vinh Quoc Doan and view his collection of paintings, sculptures, wood-panel engravings and decorative arts on display for the first time in the U.S.

His family history was one familiar to much of the crowd. Doan is the son of South Vietnam’s famous novelist and social essayist Sy Quoc Doan, who was sent to prison by the Communist government for 13 years after the fall of Saigon in 1975. Despite this, Doan managed to climb to the top of Vietnam’s burgeoning art and design world.

While his childhood appeared turbulent, his art tells another story. Doan’s work overflows with serene images deeply rooted in Vietnam and its people — colorful paintings of young women in ao dai, fitted Vietnamese traditional dresses that resemble long tunics with slits at the waist and worn with pants; astrological symbols often displayed in the traditional Vietnamese homes; images of the water buffalo, an animal seen as representing the work ethics of the Vietnamese peoples.

“Politics doesn’t appeal to me,” said Doan, 46. “Art is an outlet for me to express the quiet beauty of Vietnam, many happy memories from my childhood that touched my soul and life around us. ”

Saturday afternoon, more than 300 people, including many from the Vietnamese-American print and television media, turned out to see Doan’s first U.S. art exhibit, called Ao Nha Lung Linh (The Shimmering Pond from Home), at Nguoi Viet News office on Moran Street in the heart of Little Saigon. Doan, wearing a black ao dai with a mandarin collar, moved swiftly about the room, stopping to pose for photos with guests in between interviews with reporters.

He is not unfamiliar with media attention. In the past decade, Doan’s art and interior design concepts were often showcased in Vietnam publications. “His work brings an authentic feeling of Vietnam,” said Joe Lubow, a travel writer from San Francisco who purchased Doan’s art when he visited Vietnam last year.

Doan’s own home life was nearly shattered after the fall of Saigon, when his father was abruptly taken from his large family, which worked at odd jobs to get by.

“I still remember him in those days walking around in tattered clothes,” said Thu Anh Do, a childhood friend of Doan’s. “We were all starving. Meals usually consisted of rice mixed with potatoes so that it would be more filling.”

When city youths had to go to the countryside to do manual labor, as part of the Communist government’s cultural revolution program, Doan was often Do’s chauffeur by way of his old bike, transporting his friend to various work locations.

“I think because we went through so much hardship together, his success is shared by many of us who know him and his family, and even those who never met him, but they grew up in our generation,” said Do, who came to the exhibit to support Doan and visit his family.

During difficult times, Doan turned to art because it brought back memories of happier times of his early childhood. His father’s friends, many of whom are well-known poets, writers, artists and musicians, would frequently stop by and fill their family room with conversation and laughter.

“Our home was filled with so many original artworks from my father’s friends,” he said. Doan said he particularly admires the work of Vietnamese artist Vo Dinh, a family friend who now lives in Virginia. He remembered watching Dinh engrave intricate designs on a cabinet that was also used as a prayer table by the Doan family.

“He once told me that art doesn’t have to be fanciful and complicated. It should always be natural and pure. That idea always stayed with me,” said Doan.

The elder Doan, now 84, said that while he was in prison during the years his children were growing up, thoughts and memories of his family gave him strength to survive.

“I was worried for them because I know my wife and children would have to struggle in life and I wasn’t there” he said while visiting the exhibit. “But somehow, I always had the conviction that my children would turn out as good people while I was gone because of the education and values we instilled early on.”

His son’s lucky break came in 1980, when he was selected to work as an apprentice for one of Vietnam’s premier architects, Truong Dinh Que. After his apprenticeship in 1984, Doan tried to find work but was repeatedly rejected based on his family being blacklisted by the government. He later worked as a truck driver, a taxi driver and then a tour guide in Saigon. By 1988, his father was released from prison.

In the early ’90s, as the Communist government began promoting tourism in Vietnam, more restaurants and cafes began to open. Friends turned to Doan for help with art and interior design for their businesses. For each venue, Doan designed individual art collections to enhance the décor and aesthetic energy. The results of these efforts are on display, for example, at Nam An in Saigon. In 1992, Doan opened his first art gallery, HomeFlowers Design, which also serves as an interior design firm. Two years later, when the U.S. lifted the trade embargo with Vietnam, his business was one of the first interior design companies in Saigon with more than 40 employees.

His decision to come to the U.S. now was fueled by his desire to reunite with his family, he said. His three sisters in Vietnam are awaiting paperwork to join the rest of the clan. Doan is enjoying his new life in America but said he is surprised at the nonstop work pace here.

His siblings and friends were available only during weekends to help him set up his showroom, which will open Dec. 1 at DV Gallery & Interior Designs on Beach Boulevard in Westminster. Doan turned the small warehouse, often used for community events, into an art gallery. He built free-standing wall panels and makeshift shelves to showcase more than 200 pieces of sculptures, statues, vases, lamps, mirrors and room partitions with hand-engraved etchings. As for lighting, he transformed more than a dozen copper bird cages into ceiling lamps lighted with color bulbs.

“I’ve never had to set up a showroom by myself,” he said, laughing. “I’m very spoiled in Vietnam. I just speak to my staff on the phone and it’s done.”

Overseas Vietnamese painter exhibits in Washington

A painting exhibition by an overseas Vietnamese has just opened at the Washington Printmakers Gallery in the U.S. capital.

The exhibition of works by Nuong Van-Dinh Tran is a combination of traditional Vietnamese and American artistic styles, most notably exhibited by “An Old Oak Tree in Winter.”

Born in Vietnam, Nuong and her family settled in the U.S. in 1950. She was initially trained at the Corcoran College of Art before receiving an MFA from George Washington University.

Her works have featured at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the National Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress fine prints collection, and at Moscow’s Pushkin Museum.

The Washington exhibition will close October 28.

Source: VNA

Man shares Vietnamese art at Surprise museum

Michael Senft
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 22, 2007 07:25 AM

For Todd Shepherd, collecting art isn’t just a way to beautify his home – it’s a way to meet people.

“I don’t collect any one thing. It all depends on whether the piece or the artist speaks to me,” the 41-year-old Glendale man says. “There are pieces I have that are sitting in my closet, I’d never put them up, they are so bad. But my wife and I would go to First Fridays and strike up conversations with these artists. We’d talk, then I’d buy one of their pieces, no matter how bad it is. Afterward my wife would ask why I wasted $25 on that piece, but I figure the conversation, the connection, it’s worth it.”

That’s not to say Shepherd’s collection isn’t museum quality. Surprise’s West Valley Art Museum is showing 15 paintings by contemporary Vietnamese artists from his collection. He developed a love of Eastern art during his travels in Japan and China while serving in the Navy.


“I’ve always loved art, but I kind of drifted away from it. My oldest son is very artistic, and when he was growing up he always wanted to go to museums. We’d go to museums and art galleries in places like Tokyo, and it rekindled my love for art. It was a great way to escape, as well as a great way to learn about a culture,” he says.

But don’t expect typical Eastern art in the collection. Most of the pieces in the exhibit show a markedly Western influence.

“Vietnamese art is different than most Eastern art. Because it was a French colony for so long, the artists were heavily influenced by 19th-century European movements,” Shepherd says.

They are also astonishingly diverse, from realistic portraits to abstract oil paintings. Some are in pen-and-ink, others in gouache. And all are recent works.

“Vietnamese art did not follow a linear development – there are no ‘-isms.’ The artists paint what they feel. And with doi moi (the Vietnamese government’s economic Westernization in the ’80s) many things that were taboo became more accepted,” Shepherd says.

Through his collection, Shepherd has kindled friendships with several Vietnamese artists, including Bui Quang Anh. Shepherd has invited the abstract painter to visit America next year.

“He’s never been to the United States. I want to bring him over here, show him the Grand Canyon,” Shepherd says.

A former Viet Cong soldier, Anh offers Shepherd a different view on his own family history.

“I come from a military family – my relatives fought in Vietnam. By collecting Vietnamese art, I’m able to meet artists like Bui Quang Anh and learn more about the war from their perspective,” he says.

“And I’m able to share my perspectives with them.”



Todd Shepherd

enlarge image


Vietnamese Artists: From the Collection of Todd Shepherd

When: Museum hours 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. Exhibit open through Dec. 16.

Where: West Valley Art Museum, 17420 N. Avenue of the Arts, Surprise.

Admission: $6.50-$7.

Details: (623) 972-0635,




Locked eyes: The very first exhibition at Maison des Arts featuring 18 Ha Noi artists is intended to give visitors an overview of contemporary Vietnamese art. — VNS Photo Truong Vi

HA NOI — A new exhibition gives visitors an overview of contemporary Vietnamese art through paintings and sculptures by 15 painters and three sculptors from Ha Noi.

Nearly 50 paintings and 10 sculptures on show at the first exhibition to be hosted by the Maison des Arts in Ha Noi reflect a variety of contemporary artistic movements including abstract, expressionism, impressionism, and hyper-realism.

Sculptures on display include Canh Chim Do (Red Birdwing) by Luong Van Viet, inspired by the need to protect the environment and wildlife, and Dong Chay Ngam (Hidden Current) by Khong Do Tuyen, calling on people to live healthier lives.

“I can see common things in different works by the artists at the show,” said Nguyen Nga, owner of the newly opened Maison des Arts. “They reflect the image of a peaceful country: Viet Nam. The young painters have begun to look for their own world while moving towards a more integrated world.”

Nga said she hoped the exhibition would help visitors learn more about Vietnamese contemporary art and help the young artists become better known nationwide.

Nga, 50, left Viet Nam at a young age and has lived in France for years. By opening the Maison des Arts, she said she wished to bridge the cultures of the two countries.

The exhibition runs until July 30 at Maison des Arts, located at 31A Van Mieu Street in Ha Noi. — VNS

|  Charlie Don’t Surf
Exhibition: April 9 – May 21, 2005
Dinh Q. LE
NGUYEN Tan Hoang
TRAN T. Kim-Trang

Opening: Saturday, April 9, 8pm (artists in attendance)
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 6pm

Curated by Viet LE

80 page full colour catalogue

“Charlie Don’t Surf: Art, the Politics of Identity, and the Vietnam War”
Sunday, April 10, 2 – 5 pm, Vancouver Art Gallery, room 403 ADMISSION FREE.

Dinh Q. L↑ (artist; Ho Chi Minh/Los Angeles)
Viet Le (artist/curator; PhD candidate, USC, Los Angeles)
Nguyen Tan Hoang (filmmaker/artist; PhD candidate, UC, Berkeley)
Nhan Duc Nguyen (artist; Vancouver)
Ann Phong (artist; Los Angeles)
Moira Roth (art historian and critic; Mills College, Oakland, CA)
MODERATOR: Alice Ming Wai Jim (curator; Centre A)

Thirty years after The Fall of Saigon in Vietnam, and a decade after the flowering and subsequent proclaimed failure of multiculturalism and identity politics in the United States, this exhibition highlights contemporary Vietnamese American visual artists whose work and subjectivity is affected by these socio-political intersections. Through experimental video, abstract painting, and photography, these multi-generational artists’ seemingly disparate practices explore memory, failure, sexuality, trauma, and the ambivalent politics of cultural difference.

Referring to Antonio Gramsci’s notion of the war of position (as opposed to the war of maneuver), which situates cultural production as an active site of resistance and a space to question hegemonic structures, the exhibition raises a number of critical questions. How has the legacy of the Vietnam War affected these multiply diasporic artists’ work (or has it)? How do these artists embrace, challenge and engage issues of representation, authenticity, and validation? Do they address—or problematize—the burden of representation? In short, how do these artists subvert and/or exploit standard expectations and assumptions of Vietnamese American/ Asian American subjectivity?

The exhibition is accompanied by a colour catalogue (32 illns;106pp), edited by Viet Le and Alice Ming Wai Jim, with essays by Linda Thinh Võ, Mariam Beevi Lam, Moira Roth, and others. * SPECIAL PRICE ON OPENING NIGHT.

Centre A gratefully acknowledges the generous support of its patrons, sponsors, members, partners, private foundations, and government funding agencies, including the Canada Council for the Arts, the British Columbia Arts Council, and the City of Vancouver through the Office of Cultural Affairs. Charlie Don’t Surf: 4 Vietnamese American Artists is also supported, in part, by SEATRiP (“Southeast Asia: Text, Ritual, Performance” Research Program), University of California at Riverside; the Long March Foundation; the VAWA Fest (Vietnamese American Women Artists Festival); the Vancouver Art Gallery; the Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association (VAALA); and individual patrons Dawn Akemi Nakaya, Hong Hoa Thi Ho, and Catherine Hong Le. Additional support for related education programs for the exhibition has been provided by a Diversities Initiatives grant from the City of Vancouver.

Presented in affiliation with Asian Heritage Month

Artist and Curator Biographies

Dinh Q. LE uses photo weavings to examine trauma and representation in Cambodia, Vietnam and the United States. The large, lush photo montages, using a traditional grass mat weaving technique, combine disparate images culled from popular culture (particularly American film and newspaper representations of the Vietnam War) into tapestries that conceal and reveal half-truths, media constructions, providing a visual analogy of the processes of memory and historical trauma: fragments are obscured, recovered, it is a process of ongoing articulation and negotiation—to remember is to forget, the viewer struggles to form a mental image, must take time with what is before her to make sense of the disconcerting, haunting splinters—a face, a body, machines of war. In his latest work, the images have multiplied, a dizzying array of references, an onslaught of images of violence, flesh, and terror re-imagined as spectacle by the Hollywood machine. Lê’s work has been exhibited in numerous international solo and group exhibitions, most recently at the Venice Biennale.

Viet LE is an interdisciplinary artist, creative and critical writer, and curator. He has received creative fellowships from the Banff Centre (Canada), the Fine Arts Work Center (MA), and PEN Center USA (CA). His artwork has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, most recently at the Laguna Art Museum (CA) and the Cape Museum of Fine Arts (MA). His work has been published in Asia Pacific American Journal, Amerasia Journal, So Luminous the Wildflowers: An Anthology of California Poets (Vols. I & II: Tebot Bach 2003, 2005), Corpus, among others. His latest curatorial project was a performance series premiering in Los Angeles and Orange Counties entitled Miss Saigon with the Wind, featuring work by Vietnamese American female performance artists ( Le obtained his M.F.A. from the University of California, Irvine, where he has also taught; and is currently pursuing his doctoral studies at the University of Southern California.

NGUYEN Tan Hoang is both an academic and an experimental film-maker whose creative work has been featured in festivals in the U.S., Canada, Hong Kong, and Europe. Nguyen’s artistic agenda is a political one: to create a popular culture for queer Asian Americans. Nguyen often uses appropriated film footage, combining pastiche, kitsch film and music references to speak of his queer positionality. Nguyen’s output of short videos includes Seven Steps to Sticky Heaven, a musing on the politicization process of becoming “sticky rice”—a gay Asian male who dates other GAM’s. Maybe Never (but I’m counting the days) is an exploration of loss, longing and queer colored subjectivity in the shadow of AIDS. Nguyen’s other work has included homages to supermodels (Forever Linda!); Dalena, a blue-eyed, blonde haired singing sensation within the Vietnamese American community (Cover Girl: A Gift from God); Hong Kong popstars (Forever Jimmy!); “bottoms” (Forever Bottom) and pirates (Pirated!). Through a nonlinear “pirated television” editing technique used in Pirated! (2003), Hoang speaks of the perilous journey of boat refugees, pirates, and his own homoerotic desire for pirates (manifest in swashbuckling films), as well as insights on “returning to the homeland” and its inherent contradictions.

Born in Saigon, Ann PHONG fled Vietnam in 1981 and spent a year living in refugee camps in Malaysia and the Philippines before coming to southern California. In 1995 she received her M.F.A. from California State University, Fullerton. Her work has been exhibited in more than 40 solo and group shows throughout California and in Japan. She currently teaches art at Cal State Fullerton, and Cal Poly Pomona. Phong’s abstracted paintings of boats reference the female body as a vessel, and also the plight of the Vietnamese refugee boat people. The surfaces are tactile, layers and layers of paint and text embedded; when lit properly, they glow from within. The images are abstracted—waves of translucent paint, an outline of an empty boat, a disembodied hand. Formal and visceral, she plays with extremes—tenebroso, if you will—areas contrast each other, light and dark. Her work often evokes painful individual and collective memories, expressing impotence, loss, wonder, rage. This is manifest in her paintings, the colors, the layers, the violent and gentle brush strokes.

TRAN T. Kim Trang was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the U.S. in 1975. She received her M.F.A. in 1993 from the California Institute of the Arts and her B.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1989. In 1991, Tran T. Kim Trang commenced working on the Blindness Series, an eight-part experimental video project examining blindness and its metaphors. Stylistically and conceptually different, each video functions as a theoretical and visceral musing on different aspects of sightlessness. Alethia (1992) is the introduction to the series, weaving various categories together; operlucum (1993) deconstructs Western ideals of beauty and shows the artist visiting Beverly Hills cosmetic operations offices for consultations on blepharoplasty, or eyelid creasing surgery; kore (1994) muses on blindfolds, gender and sexuality, fear, and institutional blindspots (women, people of color, AIDS); ocularis: Eye Surrogates (1997) deals with surveillance; ekleipsis (1998) delves into the hysterical blindness of a group of Cambodian women residing in Long Beach; alexia (2000) is a musing on word blindness and metaphors. The penultimate installment of the series, amaurosis: a portrait of Nguyen Duc Dat (2003) is an experimental documentary about a blind guitarist residing in Little Saigon, CA.

Vancouver display will commemorate exodus of Vietnamese

Doug Ward, Vancouver Sun

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2007

One day in 1986, Khanh Vo, a middle-aged nurse and mother, clambered into a boat and fled her native Vietnam.

Her middle-class apartment had been expropriated by the Communist government and she barely earned enough to feed her family, despite her medical skills.

So she joined the wave of refugees that came to be known as the Vietnamese boat people.

Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong cling to a barbed wire fence while waiting in line for food outside a temporary holding area in 1989.View Larger Image View Larger Image

Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong cling to a barbed wire fence while waiting in line for food outside a temporary holding area in 1989.

Reuters, Files

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Her four-day journey to Malaysia was safe and happily uneventful — unlike the horrific experiences of many other Vietnamese refugees who drowned, were killed or raped by pirates, suffered long periods of hunger or languished in squalid refugee camps.

Vo eventually settled in Vancouver, where years later she was joined by the daughter she left behind in Vietnam.

This same daughter, Que-Tran Hoang, now 27, is organizing a display in Vancouver this weekend that commemorates the fall of Saigon to the Communists in April 1975 and the migration of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese boat people to other countries.

“We try to educate younger Vietnamese-Canadians about the Vietnam War,” said Hoang.

“We try to give them their parents’ point of view which is that South Vietnamese forces were fighting the North Vietnamese Communists to protect South Vietnam.”

Many older Vietnamese-Canadians, she added, are concerned that their children and grandchildren have been influenced by other perspectives on the Vietnam War, including the belief of many North Americans that South Vietnamese politicians and soldiers were puppets of the American military that pursued a tragic and unpopular war.

The key event in this weekend’s celebration is the display of the Vietnamese Freedom Boat in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Its purpose is to remind a younger generation of Vietnamese-Canadians of the ordeals endured by many of the so-called boat people, said Hoang.

The Freedom Boat was one of two motorized light fishing boats that left Vietnam on May 12, 1981.

The boats battled high waves for about a week before arriving on a beach in Bataan, Philippines.

Filipino police were shocked by the condition of the refugees, who had been so hungry they had actually eaten most of their clothes.

All of the 50 refugees miraculously survived.

Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos was so moved by their story that he had the smaller boat displayed at a site dedicated to the memory of the boat people called Freedom Plaza in Bataan.

The 10-metre-long boat became known as Freedom Boat. The vessel was recently given by the Filipino government to a Vietnamese cultural group in California, and is now on a tour of the U.S. and Canada.

Between 1975 and 1989, 600,000 Vietnamese “boat people” resettled abroad.

Many of them spent time in refugee camps set up by the United Nations to cope with the humanitarian crisis.

About 145,000 came to Canada, the majority between 1975 and 1984.

Hoang, who is now constituency assistant to Vancouver-Kingsway NDP MLA Adrian Dix, said there are about 27,000 Vietnamese in B.C. — about half of them refugees.

The boat people phenomenon came to a halt in 1989 when the United Nations placed greater restrictions on Vietnamese refugee claims.