Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Awakening of Hanoi public space

Updated at Monday, 30 Apr 2018, 22:12
The Hanoitimes - A series of new mural roads in Hanoi show that the city is paying more attention to the development of its public space.
Mural corner in Phung Hung Street, Hanoi
Mural corner in Phung Hung Street, Hanoi

Only recently has Hanoi recognized and paid attention to the protection, maintenance of public space, as well as action against the encroachment and decline of PS. However, it is not true that all public space or community art projects would make life better, architect Tran Huy Anh (Hanoi Architect Association) told Hanoitimes.

In your opinion, how was Vietnamese community art, or in other words, street fresco originated?
The remarkable street mural project in Vietnam is in Tam Thanh commune (Tam Ky city, Quang Nam province.) Initially, this project is quite successful due to the support of a Korean organization with 20 years of experience in community projects.
The project has turned Tam Thanh from a remote fishing village into a tourist attraction.
In so speaking, Hanoi learnt Tam Thanh to do these fresco projects?
It is difficult to say who learns from whom, but Hanoi has a history of development in the direction towards a public city, once proud of being a green city with many rivers and lakes, many parks, theaters, public playgrounds, and a wide network of clubs for workers, women, youth and children ...
Yet in the first ten years of the 21st century, Hanoi has built tens of millions of square meters of housing every year, equal to the total area built throughout the 20th century. Giant commercial buildings continue to spring up. The area of ​​the city expands daily, but PS gradually shrinks, showing shortage of availability, less attractiveness...
Only recently, Hanoi has a sudden awakening, recognizing and paying attention to the maintenance of PS, and action against the encroachment, decline of PS. The fresco project at Phung Hung Street is one of the initiatives to bring art into the living space of Hanoi. The project did not need to spend too much money, yet it has expressed Hanoians’ aspirations, being artistic and soulful thanks to the paintings of contemporary artists.
Prior to the Fresco project at Phung Hung Street, there are many other community mural projects in residential areas. What comments do you have on these projects?
The community art is the work worth doing. In the world, whether the countryside or the cities, they all carry individual person's aspiration in the community art messages.
But I do not totally agree with the makeup of Hanoi residential areas. Because these projects are spontaneous, there exists a gap between reality and depiction capability.
There are projects that reach the Guinness record but exhibit the arbitrary aesthetic and chaotic artistic language.
That is the shortcoming of bringing beauty into our lives without consideration, is one of the bureaucratic and less creative way of management.
The Phung Hung Street Fresco Project is highly appreciated perhaps due to the project had been in the joint hands of artists from art managers to art community, which means it is done within the planning?
I do not think community art is to be planned, because doing so would be imposing and stiffening artistic painting. In my opinion, every project, even if it is a popular painting, needs to have a discussion between artists, cultural workers and the people, to gather the hearts of Hanoi lovers to create art works demonstrating the stature of a city who loves beauty, is intellectual, neither bureaucratic nor suppressive.

Cam Anh
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