16 coffee tables installation exhibition – Artvietnam Gallery 2016 ← Back to the portfolio
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Nguyen The Son, Chinese scholar, photographer, artist on the move, once again provokes us to thought with his latest body of work, Story of 16 coffee tables, photo- installation, recently exhibited in the Mien Meo Mieng (Land of Distortion) exhibition at Umea Bildmuseet University, Sweden curated by Tran Luong.
For this exhibition Son created 16 coffee tables made of lacquer. These 16 coffee tables represent the “16 golden words” – the pillars of the diplomatic relationship between Vietnam and China.
This version of the “16 golden words” is different from the 16 words which Son previously learned in school. The original versions are friendly neighbor, comprehensive cooperation, long term stability, and future-oriented. However as time has gone by, these slogans have evolved into another version by which the tone has changed considerably. They are joint rivers and mountains, shared ideology, cultural similarity, and correlated fate. It is this version that Son used to make the 16 gold-molded Sino Vietnamese words, written in Chinese calligraphic style. Each “golden word” is carved on a lacquered table top, placed on top of a montage of photographs that portray stories of the various aspects of the meaning of each word in the two different countries, bound by the same ideological mentality.
The use of coffee tables where everyday life and stories are shared serves as a metaphor of this historic connecting of ideas.
It is this investigation of the line between evolution and loss, progress and amnesia that dominates in the work of this probing mind of the scholar/artist.
Also on display are Son’s newest works in the continuation of his Nha Mat Pho and Nha Tay Transforms series. As with the coffee table series, these works do not provide us with answers. Instead they do so much more, inviting viewers to see today’s Hanoi not as discontinuous with the past but as both creating and being created by its quest for the future.
Come and enjoy with us a chat about life, shared stories and history and our quest for the future as we enter the New Year of the Monkey.