puppets land in Washington
on a rod: Chu Luong’s puppets are set to be showcased in
Washington DC at a mammoth exhibition exploring the Vietnamese wet rice
civilisation. — VNS Photo Truong Vi
puppeteer Chu Luong has hauled 700 of his hand carved water puppets to the US
for a mammoth exhibition scheduled to open next Wednesday in Washington DC.
The show, which will focus
on rice cultivation, will pack the prestigious Ronald Reagan Building and
International Trade Centre. It is scheduled to run through June 24.
It will mark a US tour by
President Nguyen Minh Triet, the first Vietnamese president to visit America
since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1995. The show will
feature Chu Luong as the main manipulator of a host of puppets who will bring to
the US an original installation entitled Nhan Gian (The Living Earth), which was
held to glowing reviews in Ha Noi in March.
The intricate puppets are
mostly farmers and designed to capture the lively spirit of rural Viet Nam.
"I hope audiences
will understand the stories that we want to tell them. The stories are about the
purity, the optimism and the tolerance of Vietnamese people," he said.
Those themes are
demonstrated in everyday scenes of Viet Nam, such as festivals, fishing, and
prayer, he said.
Luong, writer Nguyen Quang
Thieu and film director Luong Tu Duc spent April in the US with around 200
puppets. There, they talked about the history and the development of Vietnamese
were really interested in Vietnamese folklore. I played the Mong flute and Thieu
played the dan bau (monochord). Many told us that they were captivated by
the pure sounds," Luong said.
Luong’s puppets will be
supported by an exhibition of black-and-white photos of Viet Nam News
photographer Viet Thanh, and freelance Hoai Linh.
civilisation was born from the effort of every Vietnamese person, but it remains
a strange dish for foreigners," said Nguyen A Phi, the exhibit’s curator
and driving force behind The World and Viet Nam Report newspaper. "I think
we should seduce foreigners with more traditional and simple things."
The presence of the three
artists at the exhibit is expected to attract many visitors. "The works
might become soulless without the presence of their authors," said Phi. —