The Goethe-Institut has been funding residencies in Leipzig for artists from Southeast Asia since 2020. The first Vietnamese artist to participate in this programme is Ms. Le Hien Minh from Ho Chi Minh City. Since March 1st she has been living and working in the art and culture center of Leipzig's "Baumwollspinnerei" (cotton mill). The corona virus epidemic has also spread to Germany since the beginning of March. We asked Ms. Le Hien Minh to report how she was doing.
Vietnamese handmade Dó paper, gouache, metal and fabric
Five Questions (version 2) was created by the artist Le Hien Minh specifically for LIA residency in Leipzig, Germany. It is the sixth work in a series, started in 2016, focusing on significant social issues including gender roles, hierarchies in society and female identity.
The installation contains two objects. A mop and a bucket. They are paired with large-scale, hand painted, typographic questions. Who is woman? What is woman? Where is woman? Why is woman? When is woman? in the German language.
“Both the mop and the bucket are a type of universal object. Most households in the world would contain some versions of them, used for cleaning. In my work, they are the symbol of a specific type labour, which is household work. On average, globally, the time women spend performing household work, such as cleaning, cooking, childcare, caring for relatives, etc, far exceed that of men.
Women are expected to do household work freely and willingly, by their family and by society. Women are often taught to believe they are at their best when they are in service to the family, and selfish if they focus on their own wishes and desires. As a result of this conclusion by society, women often spend their energy taking care of the family and the family home. This duty holds women back from opportunities to pursue education, earn income, or follow a path toward increased power within society. Despite its importance, family household labour is devalued in society to next to nothing. It is seen as one of the lowest forms of labour because it can not be used to earn. It is an unpaid labour which women are duty-bound to take responsibility for. These household laborers make up an invisible workforce, who perform an unpaid task for the sake of a society which devalues their contributions.
The work Five Questions (version 2) recognizes and acknowledges woman’s labour and household work. To bring women’s work out of the shadows, and put a stop to stereotypical gender roles that relegate women to the least valued positions in society, we must first take a step toward acknowledgment and respect to the multitude of women who work in the family home.”
Five Questions (version 2) invites the viewer to interact with the work by answering one or more of the five stated questions. The answers could be related to the artwork or could be related more generally to experiences or feelings in regards to gender or female identity. The viewer can then put their answers into the bucket.
For those who can not participate in the exhibition, they can send their answers to email@example.com. I will collect the answers, write them down and put them in the bucket. At a later date the answers may be published without a name attach.
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Last week our first round of artist who participates in “Pacific-Leipzig” program has started their residence in Leipzig. Mr Raulff, president of the ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen - Institute for Foreign Relations), also came to visit our artists.
Everybody is eager to learn new things. They already had coffee in the studio for etching. The artists have already completed the city tour and now they start to work. Next week everybody will come to Berlin for the first excursion.