Today’s story is from Hue, a central city in Vietnam, and where I meet some great, crazy people.
Here we go!
After a one and a half hour flight to the north of Ho Chi Minh City. Hue, here I come. Ms. Makiko Hara, a curator based in Vancouver, recommended this place to me saying, “If you go to Vietnam, you can’t miss a visit to Hue”. You will see why shortly. First, I head to an art space in the center of the city, about a half hour drive away from the airport. It is called New Space Arts Foundation.
It is located on the second floor.
The signboard at the entrance.
When I visit, an exhibition by local students is on display.
The space is very tidy.
The art space is located on the second floor of a souvenir shop, it is spacious, neat and tidy. I landed in Hue to meet the owner of this art space more than anything else.
Ok, it’s time to make introductions.
The owner of the art space is: Le Brothers !!
They are the most powerful contemporary twin artists born in Hue, Vietnam. Their names are Hai Duc Le (has a piercing in his nose) and Thanh Ngoc Le (has a nose ring). I forget to ask who is the eldest. These brothers gulp down glasses of Jack Daniel’s like water, they shout “F***!! F***!!” repeatedly. “F***ing contemporary Art!!” “F***ing concept!!” Yeah, Le Brothers, you rock. I fall in love with them at once.
Right after I get to their space, the twins take me to a restaurant that seems quite exclusive and treat me with the finest steak, together we also drink five bottles of wine.
The man in the foreground is Mr. Tran Thanh Son, in charge of the construction of the brothers’ works.
After the restaurant, we go back to the New Space Arts Foundation and they endlessly pour Jack Daniel’s on the rocks for me. Naturally I am exhausted and dead drunk. Though they had planned to introduce their works, I am too drunk and I don’t know why but I make my own presentation about Art Center Ongoing instead. It is good that both of them seem to enjoy listening to me though…I sink into the sofa for the night.
I don’t remember anything after that.
Just as I had feared, I have a terrible hangover the next day. The brothers have been running a residency program too and I stay there in Hue. This residence has been designed by the two brothers and the house and garden are wonderful.
This is the garden of the residence. The pond has a bridge.
This is the house designed by the brothers.
It is comfortable inside, too.
Naturally, every night at the residence, we drink Jack Daniel’s together. When they want to pee, both of them stand on the bridge over the pond and their pee gurgles down into the water. Oh la la, it is fun to watch every single move the twins make. Needless to say, they call out “F***! F***!” repeatedly.
The brothers have tattoos on their bodies and look formidable but they are actually very friendly and kind hearted （they are one year older than me）. They are town celebrities, and almost everybody knows them. Furthermore, they are active not only in Vietnam but internationally as well.
I have no choice but to figure out who is who by the position of their nose piercings.
I interview them about their activities on another day. Their career as artists began in 1997. Since then, they continued their activities as artists whilst teaching at university. However, describing their university jobs as terribly F***, they quit to devote themselves fully to being artists in around 2008. The turning point was in 2004 when they went to France. They encountered contemporary art there and were overwhelmed by its history and concept. Since then they have traveled to see art all over the world and have continued thinking about the concept of contemporary art. In the West, the world of contemporary art is already well established so the brothers wonder how they will be able to grapple with this big concept as Vietnamese artists. After deliberating on the question together the twins finally came up with the slogan “Contemporary is mine!!”. They also came up with the phrase, “Local artist is contemporary!!” As a Vietnamese or an Asian, they want to know how to tackle the big art centers of America and Europe. As a plan of action, the brothers concluded that they needed to seek out the answers in their own way, not by making pieces that copied Western art histories and concepts but by searching deep within themselves for the answers.
The brothers’ artwork. So cool.
Just as I am leaving, they give me some of their photographic artwork. I’m so happy!
Listening to them reason, I empathise and feel sympathatic to the brothers who repeatedly shout （simultaneously together） “F***ing contemporary Art!!” “F***ing concept!!” In the end, they say to me, “Nozo, you are our brother!!” （They call me Nozo）. We again make a toast of Jack Daniel’s for my last night there. Needless to say, of course, I have a terrible hangover again throughout the next day of travel.
At last we have our picture taken together!
F***ing Art Space run by the world’s most powerful twins.
New Space Arts Foundation
Brothers, let’s have an exhibition together sometime, somewhere in the world!!
The next destination is the capital city of Hanoi! My last stop in Vietnam.
New Space Arts Foundation
1/66 Le Loi st, Hue city
Established Year： 2008
Facility and Activity: Gallery, Residence, Talk