Suzanne Lecht, Natalia Kraevskaia - Goethe-Institut Vietnam

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Suzanne Lecht, Natalia Kraevskaia

HAN Suzanne Lecht Photo (detail): ©

Suzanne Lecht

HAN Natalia Kraevskaia © Private

Natalia Kraevskaia

Women have always been active as artists, but to this day it is mainly men who attract the attention in the art market – internationally and also in Vietnam. The Goethe Institute can help to pay more attention to female artists’ challenges and achievements.

In 2014, Suzanne Lecht curated the exhibition A WOMAN’S VIEW. “This is not about gender issues or feminist art. In a broader sense, we wanted to make the essence of femininity and its implementation in art visible.” Natalia Kraevskaia wrote the accompanying text for the exhibition and the catalogue.

Suzanne Lecht has been contributing to the development of Vietnamese contemporary art and its success on the international market since 1994 with her Art Vietnam Gallery. Natalia Kraevskaia co-founded Salon Natasha with Vu Dan Tan in 1990, the first independent art venue in Hanoi. Through her curatorial and journalistic work, she has built bridges for Vietnamese art all over the world.

Ten well-known artists created completely new works for the exhibition THE FEMALE VIEW: Nguyen Thi Chau Giang, Nguyen Huu Tram Kha, Nguyen Thi Chinh Le, Nguyen Trinh Thi, Maritta Nurmi, Phi Phi Oanh, Dinh Thi Tham Poong, Vu Kim Thu, Nguyen Phuong linh and Luong Hue Trinh.

Nguyen Thi Chau Giang ’s work on double-sided silk explores the balance between public and private life. The image of a woman and a dragon points to struggles in all of us that are never resolved.

Nguyen Huu Tram Kha weaves hundreds of x-ray film strips together to create a blanket of memory. Each strip is a physical manifestation transformed into an image by way of its negative. And while it seems that so much is being revealed through the x-ray images, so much remains eerily absent.

Nguyen Thi Chinh Le’s bronze sculptures reflects the poetry she finds in the empty spaces in one’s life. She recalls the enigma of the stories she overheard as a girl, the stories she now continues to tell. The sculptures are infused with the artist’s nascent wisdom.

Nguyen Trinh Thi (DocLab) gave the film Let Us Now Praise Famous Women (from a co-production with Harun Farocki and Antje Ehrmann). What is often classified as the women’s work is now re-viewed. The film sets a counterpoint and praises diligence, commitment, creativity and the femininity of women.

Maritta Nurmi - taking a traditional life-sized Vietnamese vase and recording her triumphs and sorrows on its surface, Nurmi transforms the face of the vessel into a map of her interior life. Nurmi has found her place in this quixotic land and has emerged, as her own vessel, from a trial by fire, strong and fragile, sad and joyous.

Phi Phi Oanh - sculpting a feminine torso out of lacquer awakens ideas of preservation, combat, and distance. The piece gives physical form to the armor we all wear in order to keep our singular identities intact in a world of often conflicting and contradictory ideologies.

Dinh Thi Tham Poong also uses the lacquer medium to explore the dialogue that is always unfolding between loved ones. Here she expresses her feelings of spiritual and physical connection with her intimates.

Vu Kim Thu maps a landscape of a Japanese village’s historical roofs and houses onto a lantern made of Japanese Washi paper. Reminiscent of the roofs of her hometown Hanoi, the artist transcends cultural borders. “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to.” (Jean Luc Godard)

Nguyen Phuong Linh and sound artist Luong Hue Trinh merged their talents to create a collaborative work of fashion and sound called Play Dead. Phuong Linh blends design elements from folk art, shaman paintings, and Buddhist talismans of death, fashioning contemporary clothing. Hue Trinh mixes experimental sound with traditional melodies and instrumentation, overlaying the pop culture fashion items with the resonances of ancient Vietnam.

“The exhibition A WOMAN’S VIEW ranging from lacquer paintings to sculptures, installation and performance and demonstrating the broad possibilities of traditional, classical and new materials, exceeds the bounds of media and affirms the groundlessness of art versus craft concept as well as the affiliation of definite media to pure women’s milieu. Meanwhile the artworks themselves with their wide specter of attitudes, themes and aesthetics bear a feminine touch - they are far from the masculine ideal of conquest, possession and power and are more about positioning self, transition of memories, repercussion and search of essence.” (Natalia Kraevskaia, 2014)