Posted on September 16, 2011
Interview with Nguyen Manh Hung, artist and Nha San Studio manager
Published June 4, 2010
Pham Ngoc Duong, Cube Statue, at group show “10+”, December 2008
Zoe Butt: My various visits to Hanoi have always included an evening at Nhasan Studio. Tran Luong and Nguyen Manh Duc always present with a steady rotation of other ‘family’ members dropping by to share tea or food. This ‘family’ of artists is quite unique in Vietnam, sitting in a traditional stilt house surrounded by so many antique Buddha figures. You have been an artist nourished by this community and now a part of the second generation to manage this space - from your perspective, are their particular differences between the older and younger generations expectations of this space today?
Nguyen Manh Hung: I have known Nhasan Studio and observed Nhasan activities since 2000. I have seen the development of the Vietnamese art scene through exhibitions of artists and the relationship between them at Nhasan Studio. A lot of generations of artists have participated in and brought many experimental ideas and concepts here. The difference between the younger and the older generation in Vietnam is the freshness and confidence of youth. The older generation (those born in the 1960s) often used the material that concerns their past - the historical past of the country, of living a social ideology. Up until the late 1990s, information, education and networks with the international community outside Vietnam were very rare. Artists had to research and experiment by themselves. Sometimes they misunderstood the languages of media that they were dealing with: installation art and design or decorative objects, performance and theater or improvisational dance. Anyway their experimentation led the path for the new generation to search for experience and develop more professionally. Examining history is not the only reason or material referred to create art by the younger generation. A lot of young artists focus on their own life and physical body. The young artists bring art to the public and give better influences to their environment. So the idea of making art is still also coming from the social sphere, just more diversified.