This project is supported by: Asialink Australia, Australia Council, Queensland Government, Arts Network Asia, Prince Claus Fund and Foundation for Arts Initiatives
The Long March Project - Ho Chi Minh Trail (Duong Truong Son) extends a contemporary campaign of critical discourse
surrounding art and culture for the Long March Project, investigating the potential common threads and divergent perspectives of lived and felt experience that aims to be a progressive exercise built on the value of process and exchange, rather than an assumed investment in result and object making (though undoubtedly a valid part of an artistic process). This educational platform aims to discard the assumed differentiation between artist, curator, writer, critic, historian or student, searching for critical discussion of ideas and potential artistic endeavors through a mobile ‘residency’ where artistic practice and historical fact is challenged and ‘taken on the road’. This will not only be a physical journey within this region, but also a conceptual engagement between creative thinkers that challenges the place of art and culture in contemporary society. Such dialogue could occur at the site of ‘Long March Education’ in Beijing; it could occur in the home of a Cambodian artist; on a train traveling south from Nanning to Hanoi; or over a blog site. It is a project desiring a revisitation of the ideological motivations behind the origination of the Long March Project, seeking to re-ignite the experience of the mobile self and the importance of knowledge making through social agency and artistic exchange.
Who and where? Envisaged as a 2-year project, research and development begun in early 2008, implementation beginning July 2009 and facilitated by Long March Project, it aims to work with individuals (visual artists, writers, historians, film makers, performers etc), artistic organizations and institutions (public and private) from across this region and its diaspora (international artists will also be invited to take part). Activities will predominantly take place in Beijing, however (funds permitting) artistic investigations within Vietnam and Cambodia is ultimately desirable. The emphasis for this project is on process and education, and the need to build productive ongoing intellectual and artistic relationships and partnerships.
Critical engagement - How?
Formal and informal lectures, forums, screenings of historical and contemporary visual material, new art works, performances, new imaginings, new texts â€“ all will be created, shared, documented, distributed and displayed in the spirit of artistic exchange that is recognized as foundationally paramount to the crucial relationship between culture and contemporary society. Focusing on documentation online, this undertaking will engage such questions as: how are structures of culture and ideology created and lived as a consequence of historical memory? How can the idea of revolution be peacefully determined as a collective space of social change in societies whose cultural, political voice is seen as restricted? How are traumatic events of the past used as political strategies in order to control social communities? Are the perceived imaginings of a cultural memory or trauma exacerbating or nurturing the limits by which a society can heal, move on from a particular historical moment? What is the relationship between culture, art, and education in re-determining social agency?
An external advisory committee is in development. Current members include: Dinh Q Le, artist and Director of San Art Gallery, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Tran Luong, artist and independent curator, Hanoi, Vietnam; Boitran Huynh-Beattie curator and scholar, Sydney, Australia; Philippe Peycam, Founder and Director, Centre for Khmer Studies, Siem Reap, Cambodia; Ly Daravuth, Co-Founder and Director, Reyum Institute of Arts and Culture, Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Erin Gleeson, Founder and Director, Bassac Art, Phnom Penh. These advisors and their associated organizations will also be instrumental for the project as site for potential meetings, discussion, display, promotion etc.
The confirmed and potential pathways of the ‘Long March Project - Ho Chi Minh Trail (Duong Truong Son)’ a. (confirmed) ‘Long March Education’ is an ongoing educational platform to be launched in July 2009 at Long March Space, Beijing with 10 ‘residents’ for one month from Vietnam, Cambodia, China and the USA. The ideas and motivational aspirations behind the ‘‘Ho Chi Minh Trail (Duong Truong Son)’ will be the main case study for critical engagement. It is desired that this residency program be extended to other select venues in the region. This could be jointly hosted by the advisors of the ‘Ho Chi Minh Trail’ project – eg. San Art Gallery in Ho Chi Minh City (with Dinh Q Le) or Bassac Art in Phnom Penh (with Erin Gleeson). b. (confirmed - seeking further funding) ‘Moving the Avant-Garde’ (tentative title), akin to a ‘moving conceptual residency’ where select artists undertake a joint/individual journey/s throughout the region. It could be a journey moving from the southern tip of the border between Vietnam and Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand (Ha Tien), then heading north in a reversal of the historically determined ‘Ho Chi Minh Trail’. Or it could be a silent passage of critical thinkers along the little known waterways of the Mekong. Full documentation of discussion and impromptu debates could be video recorded. Participants to be sought from China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, with select invitations to further international artists. c. A series of invited collaborations between artists from the region. d. Exhibition showcase of ‘resident’ response to ‘Long March Education’ focus on ‘Ho Chi Minh Trail’, which could include textual documentation, or the artistic outcomes sought in response to a particular thematic. This curatorial concept could focus on the role of ‘historical tropes’ in visual histories of the region (ie. an examination of the ways in which words/verbal expressions have been utilized in social historical movements). This could include new works sought from artists across the region, and internationally. Final works to be peer-reviewed by Long March Education participants and advisors. Exhibition to be ideally held firstly in Beijing at Long March Space, followed by potential conclusion of project in Ho Chi Minh City. e. (confirmed - seeking further funding) A website and printed journal composed of specifically commissioned texts, documentary material and imagery, interviews and artist proposals. This textual material will present a summary of the project's aims, motivations, desires, results, successes and failures! Aim is to be distributed within the region with key texts translated in Vietnamese, Cambodian, Chinese and English.
Highway No.1, Vietnam
Zoe Butt (Director, International Programs, Long March Project) with Tran Thu Ha - a guide of the Ho Chi Minh Trail museum who has physically re-traced part of this trail as a personal investigation. December 2007.
Propaganda posters of Hanoi, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh Trail Museum, Hanoi, Vietnam
2009 is the 50th Anniversary of the â€˜Ho Chi Minh Trailâ€™. War Veterans are given tours to the museum.
Rememberance - Ho Chi Minh Trail Museum, Hanoi, Vietnam (April, 2009)
Centre of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Reunification Palace, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Reunification Palace, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Motivations The Long March Project began as an artistic investigation of the grand narrative and historical consciousness determined in the wake of, and resulting mythologizing, of Chinaâ€™s revolutionary Long March of 1934-36. This historical pathway was re-traced by the Long March Project in 2002, serving not only as a geographical route, but also symbolic of a much larger philosophical and ideological pursuit engaging ideas behind the process of writing, remembering and recreating a cultural history, revolutionary memory and the struggle to articulate motivations evoked in individual and collective action. There are many similar historical journeys that represent the resilience of the human spirit and though they are fraught with their own agendas and traumatic consequences, they are important cultural memories to which the possibility of a future is informed and can be given birth.
Background It is in this vein that the full context of the Ho Chi Minh Trail can also offer a metaphorical point of departure for artistic and educational discussion and imaginative collaboration. To take Vietnam as an example, successive Chinese dynasties had political, economical and cultural connections with Vietnam in its early history. This countryâ€™s independence was under continual challenge, subsequently taken by the French in the late 19th Century, forming part of Indochina along with much of the Mekong Delta region, to be later problematized by the Japanese and the US (indirectly by China and Russia). Today, China and Vietnam is entering a new phase of understanding and cooperation, spurred by common historical and geographical metaphors of political colonialism; the historical and social consequence of immigration on economic and cultural platforms at home and abroad and many more complex realities that offer a multilayered set of meanings for defining contemporary ideas of society. Where is the everyday experience anchored in Vietnam today? What drives the direction of its progress?
The Ho Chi Minh Trail, though internationally understood as a logistical supply route created during the Second Indochina War (1969-74), formed a vast network of passageways across China, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. This rhizomic map serves as a reflection of the fraught, interconnected, influential, overlapping histories of the region. This area was the strategic battle ground between the two communist powers [China and the Soviet Union] and the US during the second Indochina war China’s decision to support Vietnam during this time was instrumental to Mao Zedong’s domestic argument to gather the masses against Imperialist forces encroaching its national borders (eg. USA). This strategic decision not only internationally presented China’s support for revolutionist forces in Vietnam, but also encouraged Mao’s domestic grand plans for ‘The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution’. Going back even further in time, the complex tale of conquest (eg. Kublai Khan’s attempt to invade Vietnam in the 13th Century; or Vietnam’s occupation of the People's Republic of Kampuchea in the 1980s); of cultural and intellectual exchange (eg. vassal relationship between the Cham Dynasty of Vietnam with China), to name but a few historical examples, some of which are to this day remembered with a significant and prolonged cultural animosity.
Can such events of the past be objectively re-written, reinterpreted so as to confront, alleviate, or alter an understanding of historical consciousness? How can sensitive misgivings between cultural and social communities be creatively engaged so as to create new identifications, new possibilities of beneficial engagement where psychological and social prejudices are laid aside? How has the historical exchange of knowledge and ideas created, supported, or spurned a sense of mutual imaginings? There are many different interpretations of these variable histories, to which visual art, maps and texts, to name but a few material examples, offer important and significant comparison.
‘Ho Chi Minh Trail (Duong Truong Son)’ inspiring a new pathway for Long March Project
Aims To provide young and aspiring curators/artists with an opportunity to gain unique insight and educational experience that emphasizes the essential basis of idea making as the most important relationship between art, culture and society (such a focus of comparative learning, in regard to contemporary art theory and curatorial practice, is particularly absent in the art education systems within South East Asia) Provide a site of learning where ideas of self and society are re-examined through a critical engagement of this regions’ history and its international social, political and cultural motivations Encourage an alternate mode of art project production whereby shared critical discussion engages the meaning of a curatorial, artistic or writing practice today in a reciprocal environment of learning Encouraging a sustained and growing network of creative and intellectual thinkers (artists, writers, curators, academics, historians, cultural commentators) in the sharing of ideas, artistic proposals and potential new works in the encouragement of a wider stimulating environment for the critical discussion and reception of cultural artistic practice. Provide emerging and established curators, writers, arts workers from the region with first hand experience of working with the Long March Project – an internationally recognized independent art organization with key working networks across the world.
Charting, mapping, developing the
Zoe Butt (Director, International Programs, Long March Project) giving a lecture on history of ‘Long March Project’ at San Art, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. January 2008
Meeting with Vietnamese scholar, Boitran Huynh-Beattie; Nguyen Van Minh (International Relations, Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts University); Truong Phi Duc (Vice-Director, Ho Chi Minh Fine Arts University) with Zoe Butt (Director, International Programs, Long March Project) and Arlette Quynh-Anh Tran (curator, writer). July 2008
Artist meeting with Hanoi artists, at Nha San House, Hanoi. July 2008
Artist meeting at Temple Club (old Chinese temple) in Ho Chi Minh City with Zoe Butt (Director, International Programs, Long March Project), Dinh Q Le (advisor), Rich Streitmatter-Tran, Nguyen Nhu Huy and Phu Nam Thuc Ha. July 2008
Lu Jie (Director, Long March Project) and Zoe Butt (Director, International Programs, Long March Project) meeting Vu Dan Tan one of Vietnamâ€™s most senior contemporary artists based in Hanoi. April 2009
Visiting â€˜25â€™, a three-man artist studio and gallery in the suburbs of Hanoi. April 2009
Presentation on â€˜Long March Project - Ho Chi Minh Trail (Duong Truong Son)â€™ at Nha San House in Hanoi with Tran Luong (advisor) and Hanoi artists. April 2009
Meetings and discussions with Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba (artist) and Dinh Q Le (artist and advisor), Ho Chi Minh City. April 2009
Curatorial Project Space D, Long March Space, Beijing April 2009
There are many chefs to be found in order to offer the most provocative menu for this ongoing trail journey - and it starts in July 2009…. First platform of discussion to take place for one month with 10 residencies in Beijing at Long March Space, as part of ‘Long March Education’
Participants include: Ms Francesca Sonora, Centre for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, New York, USA Ms Jung Won Kim, Master of Arts Administration and Cultural Policy, School of the Art Institute, Chicago, USA Ms Tuong Linh Do, Bachelor of Art History, University of Fine Arts, Hanoi, Vietnam (curator and writer) Mr Nguyen Nhu Huy (Artist, curator, translator, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) Mr Vandy Rattana, Founder of ‘Steiv Salapak’, an art collective and gallery in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (artist) Ms Erin Gleeson, Founder and Director, Bassac Art, Phnom Penh (artist, curator, writer) 2 residents from Central Academy of Fine Arts, Hangzhou, China 2 residents from Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China
For further information: Zoe Butt Director, International Programs Long March Project Site address (Long March Space): 4 Jiuxianqiao Road, Chaoyang District,ďžŠBeijing, 100015, P.R.China Postal address: Mail Box 8503, Beijing , P.R. China 100015 Phone: +86 (0)10-59789768 Fax: +86 (0)10-59789764 e: email@example.com www.longmarchspace.com