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Artist laments changes to old Ha Noi

Update: September, 06/2009 - 00:00

Artist laments changes to old Ha Noi


by Le Binh

Little boxes: Ha Noi, an installation on display at Linh’s solo exhibition at the Viet Art Centre. — VNS File Photo

HA NOI — Young artist Bang Nhat Linh has created his first solo exhibition Dust, Bikes and Dim Streets to show his regret for the way the capital is changing.

The exhibition displays five installation works which recount corners of modern busy life in Ha Noi such as tall buildings, traffic jams, dust and smoke, crowds of people and vehicles. Each works conveys the artist’s longing to live in a peaceful, clean city.

At the opening ceremony of the exhibition on Saturday in Ha Noi, Danish Ambassador to Viet Nam Peter Lysholt Hansen expressed his appreciation for the 26-year-old artist’s ideas about the capital city.

"To approach the theme about Ha Noi, Linh chose a new way to express his ideas in installation works and interactive art. On behalf of the Danish Culture and Development Exchange Fund, I am very honoured to sponsor and encourage such young artists like Linh," he said.

When asked where the inspiration came from for his first exhibition, Linh said: "Going along streets, witnessing changes of the city where I was born and grew up, I wondered which is better, the old Ha Noi or new Ha Noi? I wanted to do something for my beloved city."

Deep in his heart, he feels sorry for what Ha Noi has lost. "Ha Noi in my memory of the 1980s or 1990s seems to be much more beautiful than that now."

In his work Urban City Tower, he expressed this regret by building a tower model from coal stoves that have been used popularly in the city. The stoves may save money for users, but the release of smoke and dangerous gases can harm users’ health.

Once people destroy spaces that have lakes, parks to build modern towers or high-rise buildings, there is a big question as to whether what they gain is more than what has been lost, the artist explained.

In another work called Come in, Please there is a small wooden door beside a bright, modern tower. Behind the door, people would find a space that is both strange and familiar, because in addition to the beautiful luxury appearances of the Ha Noi Street, somewhere, there are still damp, dark, sultry houses with a chaos of wires surrounding them.

Two works about transportation and traffic Street and The Sky Is Above remind visitors of terrible traffic jams happening on the streets everyday.

Once, after getting stuck in a traffic jam, the artist found himself and his motorbike blocked, by a brick wall that prevented any further motion forward; he compared himself to a brick in the wall – silent, motionless, tired and disappointed.

The work that seems to draw the most attention at the exhibit, which is also the artist’s favourite, is simply called Ha Noi. It consists tens of models of Turtle Tower; each visitor can colour one tower by themselves.

"I think each person has the desire to make one part of Ha Noi as he/she wants it. And how Ha Noi in the future will depend on the behaviours of those who live and work in the city," said Linh.

A visitor to the exhibition, Nguyen Du Phuoc, 65, praised the ideas of the young artist and expressed his happiness for a member of the younger generation having the desire to preserve and improve the city.

Linh has vividly represented images of busy modern life in Ha Noi. "Without smoke and dust, my capital would be more charming. Going along streets at night, enjoying the peaceful quiet space, you can find out the reason why I love Ha Noi. So, don’t pollute or make the city worse with dust, smoke." That is the voice of a Hanoian who is deeply in love with the city.

The exhibit will be on display until Wednesday at the Viet Art Centre on 42 Yet Kieu Street. — VNS

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