Hanoi – Australian sculptor Clare Martin will open her new exhibition titled “Notes on an Imaginary Culture” at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology (VME) on Wednesday 24 March 2010. This is Clare’s 3rd exhibition in Vietnam and her second exhibition at the VME sponsored by the Australian Embassy in Hanoi.
Since first coming to Vietnam in 1991, Clare has travelled and worked extensively in Vietnam, twice taking part in the Huế Sculpture Symposium (2006 & 2008), and mounting an exhibition in Australia about her experience of Vietnamese culture (Screening the Buddha, 2006). She first worked as artist-in-residence at VME in 2002, when she received an Asialink scholarship to produce the show Tự do / Freedom. Clare currently works at the Australian National Capital Artists studios in Canberra and frequently uses recycled materials in her sculpture.
Clare is a resident in Canberra, Australia’s capital city. Her work has mainly focused on museum installations, such as the Geller Collection, the Museum of Domestic Tension, and Heterotopia. She is a member of the Australian National Association of Visual Artists.
Origin of project
The work was started during an artist residency at VME, 2008. Later she continued to make sculptures for the show in Australia. Clare was influenced by an exhibition hosted by VME “We have eaten the forest”, about French ethnographer Condominas, designed by Musee Orsay. Of special significance to her was the use of reproductions from his notebook, including small sketches and diagrams. It was similar to an artist’s notebook. She was also influenced by the book “A contribution to understanding Katu culture” by Dr Lưu Hùng (VME), because it showed so clearly what an ethnographer’s task was.
Points to mention about the work
Since Clare is an artist rather than an ethnographer, she tried to imagine what it would be like to go on a journey of discovery, and find an unknown ethnic group. She imagined what customs would be new and strange. Then she tried to make artefacts like this, to show in a Museum setting. The materials used are mainly recycled, such as aluminium cans, because she “found” that her ethnic group used a lot of such things. They also used a lot of recycled culture, even using art as the basis of everyday things. There were signs that this people had been agricultural, and vestiges of farming practices continue in their lives, but now they live on the borders of cities, and have suffered the effects of colonisation. Why should we admire this culture ? They don’t take authorities too seriously. They are dispersed and may not live close to each other but they have a strong sense of community. These people are very inventive and show great capacity to make useful objects out of whatever is available. They also show a great sense of humour and an ability to laugh at themselves. Let’s hope they survive.
TITLE – Notes on an Imaginary Culture
ARTIST - Clare Martin
LOCATION - Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Nguyen Van Huyen Road, Cau Giay District, Hanoi
Open to the public - 24 March to 16 April 2010
Open 8:30 to 17:00 every day, closed Monday