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Artists respond to sacrifices of the oldest sister
By Michael Smith in HCMC
Saturday,  Nov 27, 2010,14:25 (GMT+7)

Artists respond to sacrifices of the oldest sister

By Michael Smith in HCMC

The birds in this three panel painting by Hoang Cong Minh represent freedom at different stages of the older sister’s life - Photo: My Tran
A group exhibition at San Art that opened last night reveals how a brother views the sacrifice of the oldest sister in a traditional Vietnamese family.

The show named after a 1980’s song, Chi Toi (My eldest sister) features paintings, installations and conceptual art from 10 male artists. Next month women artists will present their point of view on Chi Toi.

The artists in the show are Nguyen Xuan Nguyen, Mai Thanh Nam, Le Dinh Chung, Le Nhat Thanh, Nguyen Thanh Lan, Hoang Cong Minh, Pham Tran Viet Nam, Le Nguyen Chinh, Do Thanh Lang and Truong Cong Tung.

The song that is popular on radio and Karaoke bars talks about the familial duties and love of the eldest sister, who often never marries and never has a family of her own, as she takes the role of a surrogate mother for her siblings.

Mai Thanh Nam’s piece is a three dimensional collage of small  photographic portraits, blurred to depict movement in his pursuit of fun. He enjoys himself both inside and outside the framework that is set by his sister.

A small glass installation by Nguyen Xuan Nguyen on the floor of the gallery as you enter is a powerful commentary on the strict morals meant to guide women in this country.

The gallery assistant Le Xuan Hong Nhung said the piece, which is made of small squares of glass stacked like bricks, is a village-well that represents how easy and dangerous it is to break the rules and moral codes for women. An areca fruit that is a traditional fruit used in marriage customs sits at the bottom of well, lit by diffracted light from the sharp pieces of glass surrounding it.

All of the pieces show the loneliness and unfulfilled dreams that the male artists sense in their older sister.

The show will run at San Art Gallery at 3 Me Linh St, Binh Thanh District until Dec.4. The second part of the exhibition featuring female artists will open Dec.16.

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