Culture Culture

04/11/2019 - 09:14

Installation art is ... "hidden"

Installation art has appeared in Hue for nearly 20 years, but for many artists, this new form of art is still "hidden" because of the absence of space and conditions for its development.

The Installation work "Sea of Life" by Nguyen Luong Sang (artist), displayed at the New Space Art Foundation. Photo: HUU PHUC


Being one of the earliest exhibitors of installation art in Hue and owning quite a lot of works of this contemporary art, but when it comes to mention about it, Le Duc Hai, the artist, still feels regret when sharing: "In three recent years so far, the lack of installation artworks has been more and more apparent. Artists are still passionate and want to be creative with their works, but the lack of space and other conditions has hindered the installation art from coming out”.

In fact, installation art came to Hue quite early, from around in 1995 with the significant role of the German female artist Veronika Radulovic through the workshops that she and a number of German artists introduced at the College of Arts, Hue University.

Two years later, at the anniversary of the establishment of the University of Arts, the artists Truong Thien and the two artist brothers Le Ngoc Thanh and Le Duc Hai (1997) conducted an exhibition of installation art with blocks, fabrics, and available and further fabricated materials. According to Le Duc Hai, it is considered one of the first official exhibitions of installation art presented in Hue.

With Hue Festival having come into being, the installation art was powered to get close to the public. Every festival, artists from the ancient capital city and many corners in the world come to introduce new forms of art, including contemporary installations. At that time, Hue city was known to be home to many famous artists, such as Truong Thien, Dinh Khac Thinh, Le Thua Tien, Tran Tuan, Thanh Mai, the two brothers Le Ngoc Thanh - Le Duc Hai, etc., with their trendy installation artworks.

Yet, after just a short period of blooming, the installation art here was “chained down” and forced to live a hidden life due to many objective and subjective constraints. Phan Le Chung, M.A., a lecturer at the College of Arts, who is also an artist and has done installation works, explained: "While its outdoor space is difficult for the works to "adapt” because of Hue's weather conditions, the ancient capital city has still not introduced appropriate indoor display spaces for installation works. Installation art exhibitions require spaces which are large enough and well facilitated by sound and light systems”.

The two artist brothers Le Ngoc Thanh - Le Duc Hai with their installation work "Bowls and Chopsticks (1945)". Photo: By courtesy of the characters

In a meeting, Nguyen Thien Duc, (M.A.) Chairman of the Provincial Fine Arts Association, admitted: “Every year, the association organizes young artists’ exhibitions, and always encourages young artists to present new forms of arts such as installation art but only a few submits their works because of space constraints. We understand that the created works must have enough space to be displayed and to "live and shine", but indeed, the association has not been capable to meet this requirement”.

Apart from space conditions, there are some other hindrances. According to Le Duc Hai, most of the artists who follow installation art are young ones, in addition to their passion for art, they also face the burden of making both ends meet.

Installation work "Lan Lan" by the two artist brothers Le Ngoc Thanh - Le Duc Hai.  Photo: By courtesy of the characters

In need of supporting mechanisms

It is a bit exaggerated to say that the installation art’s "hidden" status has a significant influence on the flow of arts, but to some extent, its current status has somewhat obscured a ‘material’ of contemporary art. As for art training, when in lack of practical environment, it is difficult to attract enrollment. It is a pity, as specialized training in multimedia imaging has already been introduced.

Resolving the problems of space and financial support would be the key solution that would foster the development of installation art. But the questions of “how” and “who” matter considerably. Chairman of the Provincial Fine Arts Association, Mr. Nguyen Thien Duc said that the association has proposed to relevant departments to aid the establishment of spaces for artists to introduce their works and be able to express their devotion to arts. And, these proposals will be continued to be voiced in the coming seminars and meetings on the field of culture and arts.

In fact, there are artist support funds in the world, supporting the artists to present valuable works with the goal of developing arts. However, in our country, especially in Hue, these funds are not only absent, but calling for sponsors for the artistic programs is also difficult.

Young artists are rich in enthusiasm and that is a strength. But according to Nguyen Thien Duc, that strength needs a catalyst to develop. Therefore, it is essential to have supporting mechanisms such as talent or artist support funds in place.

By Huu Phuc