Wednesday, August 5 2020


Film brings Nôm back to life

Update: January, 25/2018 - 09:00
Calligbraphic art: The art of the Zenei group is inspired by the beauty and emotion of Nôm characters. — Photo courtesy of the Art Vietnam Gallery
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — The Art of Nôm a documentary film about Nôm, Việt Nam’s thousand-year-old script related to Chinese calligraphy will be screened on Sunday in Hà Nội.

Entitled The Art of Nôm, the film examines Việt Nam’s culture, history, customs, and the social impact of rapid modernisation in a changing world.

A group of five Vietnamese artists and scholars has formed an art group called Zenei (avant-garde) to capitalise on the revival. They are Nguyễn Đức Dũng, Trần Trọng Dương, Nguyễn Quang Thắng, Lê Quốc Việt and Phạm Văn Tuấn. 

They are reviving Nôm, the script widely used between the 15th and 19th centuries. Zenei art is inspired by the beauty, heritage and emotion of Nôm characters.

In 1945, Việt Nam shifted to its current phonetic script based on the Latin alphabet. Except for scholars, few Vietnamese can still read Nôm. Nôm was on the edge of extinction, and contemporary Vietnamese have faced losing touch with much of the nation’s past that is preserved in the archives written in Nôm. Now there is a revival of interest in the ancient script.

The Art of Nôm film was produced by Bill Perna of Perna Content, a company creating documentaries, web content, and TV commercials; and the Art Vietnam Gallery, which displays exhibitions, performances, artworks and installations by the Zenei group.

For more than 1,000 years China’s Han language was the basis for the script used in Việt Nam until Vietnamese created Nôm. For centuries many Vietnamese could read and write both Chinese and Nôm characters. They could also correspond in calligraphy with educated people in China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

“Now, using Nôm calligraphy, the Zenei group wants Việt Nam’s contemporary culture to interact with the nation’s rich history,” said Suzanne Lecht, director of the Art Vietnam Gallery.  

“They are trying to halt the erosion of traditional Vietnamese culture by bringing it into modern life using Nôm in their artwork, installations and performances.”

The first public screening of The Art of Nôm will take place from 2pm to 4pm at Thế Giới (World) Publishing House, 46 Trần Hưng Đạo Street, Hà Nội.

For information and bookings contact the Friends of Vietnam Heritage. — VNS




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