Material: found-table, roots of a dead plant,
soil, gravel, grass, neon lighting
The work "Centralization" is within the framework of the exhibition "No more, Not yet" with a focus on the Edge of the Citadel project. Initiated in 2021 by artist Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai and friends, with the participation of nearly 20 artists, the project follows the thread spun in No more, not yet on the uprooting and forced displacement of marginalized communities, specifically that of the thousands of households living on and by the walls of the citadel.
The work is a personal response to the observation of an opposing landscape, a spontaneous herb and vegetable garden of the local people in a devastated landscape after being cleared while the other side of the wall is the beauty of the royal garden. The cleared area of the citadel can obliterate the traces of modern social people's lives, but the persisting vegetable gardens demonstrate another permanent notion that cannot be avoided or eliminated: life continues on. Standing at the edge of the citadel, we are not only witnessing the relationship of time and space, but also seeing the transformation in the relationship between man and nature.
Xuan Ha materialised these ideas as a "table" in order to blur the obstacle between art and life. Table and garden (as second nature and third nature) are both man-made creations. The table provides a suitable surface for being alone or in groups, thinking, gathering, working, and displaying significant belongings, the surface of the table changes continuously depending on the situation. In addition, the garden at the edge of citadel contains a variety of substances that change with time, such as decaying plants, living microorganisms, even blood, and the body of war history. The roots grow "up" into the air rather than "down" into the earth as it is supposed to. "Turning" also refers to turning over (history), turning over (problem), turning order (which can be understood in the context of this project as urban planning order by the government), and turning a new page of history.
Photo from Nguyen Art Foundation
© 2022 Nguyen Vu Xuan Ha