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Art Centre exhibition furnishes the mind (January 16, 2007)

Dew drop inn: A visitor checks out a work entitled Chaise Lounge I by Isa Melsheimer, part of the Come In exhibition at the Viet Art Centre in Ha Noi.— VNS Photo Viet Thanh
Everyday household objects, be it a table lamp or a three-piece suite, have been turned into provocative works of art at a new exhibition organised by the Goethe Institute in Ha Noi.

Come In, which opened last Wednesday at the Viet Art Centre, explores the relationship between art and design. It features hundreds of objects, installations, videos and photographs by 29 German and two Vietnamese artists.

The works are the response of young artists to current trends and assumptions in contemporary interior design; some are serious, some ironic, they all reflect and refract interiors of our days, says the Institute.

Not since Quobo in 2003 has such an extensive show of contemporary avant-garde been seen in Viet Nam, claim organisers. The results, sometimes peculiar, sometimes irritating, sometimes playful and ironic, always challenge and inspire.

Highlights include Hermann’s Doner Inn, by Claus Fottinger.

"I’ve done all my stuff at the bar," says Claus.

With this piece, the artist, who has been writing "bar-room history" in Dusseldorf and elsewhere, addresses the German snack-bar and sausage-stand tradition.

On a tour of Germany, Fottinger filmed 265 Doner stands with a DVD camera. Roughly 100 stills, sewn together, form the enclosure of the illuminated bar on a crescent-shaped floor plan. Behind it are interlocked wooden shelves in the form of a cross and McDonald’s "Golden Arches." Old-German-style bar stools, a refrigerator, a hi-fi system with loudspeaker boxes with imitation wood grain, a television screen showing the film he took combine to create an entertaining portrayal of a snack bar during opening hours. The display of hamburgers, and "curry sausages" (a Berlin speciality) also represents a critique of contemporary civilisation with its standardised mass culture and national identification.

The work by Quang Huy, one of two Vietnamese artists contributing to the exhibition, is called Ngoi Den Tinh Yeu (The Pagoda of Love). It features a giant swan beneath a representation of a pagoda inlaid with gold. "I often see young couples in a swan-boat on West Lake and I wanted to honour their love," says Huy.

The exhibition is taking place at the Viet Art Centre, 42 Yet Kieu, Ha Noi, and runs until February 4. — VNS

Reprinted with permission from Vietnam News Agency


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