Project ‘Graffiti in the alley’
Nguyen Nhu HUY
This photo essay draws from my work as founder and artistic director at ZeroStation (www.zerostationvn.org), an independent and project-based art space in Hochiminh city, Vietnam. The photo essay is about one of the projects we have organized, ‘Graffiti in the alley’.
Emerging about 10 years ago, accompanied with the urban culture that had its first steps no more than 15 years since the start of urbanization process in big cities such as Hanoi and Hochiminh city, up to now, graffiti is still considered by majority as meaningless, partly naughty games of the idle boys. The reasons for this are many, but the most important is graffiti art in Vietnam has not been understood as a new life style that naturally appears when a new space of living is being formed.
Considering graffiti practice as a new possibility of expression which can express new experience as well as raise new dialogue, ZeroStation collaborated with Click9 group ((http://www.click9designs.com/), one of graffiti teams in HCMC to create a project using graffiti as a tool to awaken the interaction between people living in the neighborhood where ZeroStation is located. This is a typical quarter in the heart of Saigon with a large yard where daily activities taken naturally, kids play football, their parents chatter.
For nearly one month (since 12 July- 07 August 2011), everyday from 2pm-7pm, graffiti from Click9, other graffiti artists from other groups in Hanoi, and some foreign graffiti artists came and draw continually on the wall of ZeroStation. Everyday, the drawings on wall changed, new layers on old layers. Everyday, artists came to the alley to not only draw, but to play with kids, to organize party, and to have conversation with the residents in the alley. The vital part of the project was not only the visual change of urban landscape through a public graffiti practice. Here we also see the formation of a new dialogue, which will create a new understanding about graffiti art as a life style, and which will articulates/translate a contemporary art practice into a highly local context.
The project drew much attention of public media and audience in town and it resulted in several reports in local news papers as well as talk show on different local television channels about the project and the graffiti art in general.
Nguyen Nhu Huy is a video artist, independent curator, translator and art critic who bases in Hochiminh city, Vietnam. He has curated several shows in Vietnam, Korea and USA. Huy has contributed his writing on Vietnam contemporary art widely in Vietnam, international and has been official speaker in several international art conferences and symposiums. Currently he is managing ZeroStation, a project-based art space including Studio/Space for exhibiting and a small room for artists who participate in ZeroStation art residency program. The main mission of ZeroStation is to create more opportunities for dialoguing, thinking, and working in art-project forms among young artists in HCMC and beyond. Further information about ZeroStation: www.zerostationvn.org