Writer, curator and artist Zhuang Wubin from Singapore is holding an exhibition entitled “Love and Desire: A Reunion Show” at Puppets Cafe in Hanoi’s Dong Da District from now until August 12, 2018.
The exhibition features artworks created by former participants of Zhuang Wubin’s four workshops in Vietnam since 2013. Some of them are Maai Faam, Hoang Nguyen, Nam Nghiem, Hoang Minh Trang and Nguyen Uyen Minh.
Two workshops were organized at ZeroStation in HCMC in 2013 and 2014 while The Heritage Space in Hanoi was the host of the 2017 and 2018 iterations. Although the format of the workshops has been tweaked over the years, the structure remains fairly intact. The intent is to bring the workshop participants through the process of proposing a project, conceptualizing the shoot, executing the work and editing the outcome.
The workshops often ran for around a week, with a critique session built into the program. In the recent editions in Hanoi, the editing class has become a two-day session, which concluded the project workshop.
“Over the years, many of the workshop participants have kept in touch with me and amongst themselves. A loose informal community has taken shape without any planning. When Nguyen Anh Tuan offered me the chance to mount a show at Puppets Cafe, Hanoi, for the workshop participants, I find it hard to say no,” Zhuang said.
“This is the right time to take stock – to evaluate how some of them have developed their art making and to encourage them to persist in using photography as a means of investigation.”
According to the Singaporean artist, the selection of participants to exhibit in this show was the hardest part as he could not include the works of all the participants.
“To those whom I have not selected, I feel apologetic. But I should add that the works we see in this space bear the imprint of all the participants because these featured projects have resulted from the critique and suggestions from everyone involved. This is important to note,” he said.
With the theme “Love and Desire,” the exhibition highlights the centrality of desire in art making. Without desire, it will be impossible to make compelling work. Without the temptation of desires, there will not be risks taken, boundaries crossed. Without desire, the work loses its intimacy.
Sometimes, it is desire that drives the photographer to unpack a difficult personal issue. In other cases, it compels the artist to cast an emphatic eye. Sometimes, the work expresses the participant’s desire to be seen and heard.
Of course, desires are entangled within the experiences of love and loss. As such, many of the exhibited artworks were informed by impending loss and unspoken love.
“I have been organizing photo workshops across Southeast Asia and Hong Kong since 2008. I have always maintained that I am more a facilitator, a person who hopes to germinate in the participants the love and desire to use photography to experience the world,” Zhuang said.
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