Vietnamese Periodicals in the 1950s and 1960s: Coded Languages of Aesthetics

lecture & discussion

Alongside the development of art schools and museums in early to mid 20th century Vietnam, the periodical served as a critical platform for the construction of ideas about the arts. As the most established of artistic practices, literature and literary language held prominence and the periodical was a meeting ground wherein writers and artists constructed, debated, and refined their positions about modern and contemporary art and literature. This talk examines Nhân Văn (Humanism), Giai Phẩm (Works), and Sáng Tạo (Creativity), three periodicals that were published in 1950s-1960s Hanoi and Saigon.

The Hanoi-based Nhân Văn (Humanism) and Giai Phẩm (Works) each had a run of only five issues in 1956 before being shut down by the newly established government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam). A group of writers, artists, and intellectuals in the North had used these periodicals to publish prose and poetry as coded languages of dissent and acquiescence about the relationship between the arts and the state. The Saigon-based Sáng Tạo (Creativity) was published from 1956-1961, and served as a venue wherein contributors claimed Saigon as the centre of modern Vietnamese art. Not only did artists in the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam) dismiss socialist realism, they also distanced themselves from Abstract Expressionism and U.S. power. Instead they embraced Internationalism as a realm freed of political mandates. In circulation after the Geneva Accords and the official split of Vietnam into North and South, these three periodicals offer a window into how writers and artists debated the meaning and direction of the arts and the humanities, the relationship between aesthetics and politics, and the role of artists and writers in nation-building.

Thursday 14 June 2018, 7 p.m.
Display - Dittrichova 9, Prague

free entrance
the event will be held in English

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Chương-Đài Võ is a Researcher at Asia Art Archive. Based in Hong Kong, she specializes in modern and contemporary art related to Southeast Asia. Her writing can be found in publications such as Afterall Journal (forthcoming), Revues culturelles (forthcoming from Institut national d’histoire de l’art), Taipei Fine Arts Museum’s Modern Quarterly, the anthology Film in Contemporary Southeast Asia, and Journal of Vietnamese Studies. She is a former Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; in addition, she has received fellowships and grants from Asian Cultural Council, Fulbright Program, the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities, and University of California Pacific Rim Research Program.


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