A mixed media work on man and the architecture of public space. Commissioned by ECUE as part of "For a Livable Hanoi" Public Installation organized by Embassy of Denmark, ECUE, and 9194.
August 2019, Hanoi
Photo: Nguyen Bach
Creators: Mắt Trần Ensemble
Lead Artists: Ngụy Kiều Trinh, Nguyễn Vũ Hải, Linh Valerie Phạm with support from Đỗ Hùng Long, Vũ Minh Huệ, Đinh Thảo Linh, Nguyễn Phương, Hyang Chu and Volunteers.
Materials: Fomex Boxes in Steel Structure – Clay Puppets
The surrounding world of a modern-day person, especially one of a city dweller, often changes at a lightning speed. Overnight, a new building appears; the street we take every day is now under construction; or the trees we know all our lives suddenly go missing. The world as we know it can drastically transform in a blink of an eye. Yet in spite of the constant shapeshifting of our external environment, our internal biological clock has been maintaining its steady pace for the last thousands of years. We might have revolutionized the world with our out-of-this-world machines and technology, but our DNA still doesn’t differ that much from that of our hunter-gatherer ancestors, or even the chimpanzees. Is it then possible that no matter how the exterior structures change, our nature, our actions and needs as humans remain a constant?
We began with our observations of Hanoi, the existing form and architecture of different spaces in the city: shopping centers, offices, coffee shops, theaters, apartment complexes and etc. And then it hit us. We realized all of them were boxes! They might differ in shapes, sizes and/ or functions, but ultimately, they are boxes, which are placed side by side, one on top of another. Big box, small box, one after another – artificial, claustrophobic and strangely lonely. And in between those boxes are small pockets of air, rare open spaces such as parks, lakes - public spaces that still somehow maintains strokes and brushes of nature and a communal way of life. But with the rate at which our world is changing, is it possible that one day, everything will eventually be turnt into boxes? With this installation, we want to create a miniature of such musing – a space where everything takes place in a box. How would we as people react to such environment? Would we resist or adapt? How would we farm, run a marathon or take a walk? A bizarre world with ludicrous structures, but if you look close enough, you’d spot familiar patterns or sights – all of which we have laboriously collected from this very metropolitan landscape.