THEY CALL US VIET KIEU
Let's start with the word 'Kieu' which in Vietnamese mean's 'foreign', what does this mean to you?
We all grow up with questions in our head about our identity, who we are? what defines us? why we are the way we are? As a British Vietnamese Director a lot of my work has been coloured by this. I am what they would call a 'Viet Kieu' and this simply means a 'Vietnamese living abroad'. Follow me as I travel back to Vietnam to explore these big questions around the 'Viet Kieu' identity and at the same time uncover a vibrant and thriving contemporary art scene in Hanoi and Saigon, where I meet some of Vietnam's top emerging and leading artists, both local and 'abroad'.
31st March - "lying in bed in my London flat aware that something big is about to happen...blink....blink"
1st April - "boarding Vietnam airlines, let's try watching a Vietnamese film and get my brain ready...beep for an Asian pot noodle"
2nd April - "touch down on Vietnamese soil, a sea of black heads move towards me, something strange is growing inside me, its the feeling of becoming the dominant race, this is what it must feel like to be English : o"
First Embrace with Fabiola (my producer for the show). Off to first interview, barely slept, load up on Vietnamese coffee and straight on to the crazy motor cycle, clinging on for dear life : o
3rd April - "5am in the morning, woken up by a local lady selling potatoes, lay there in the dark, eyes wide open soaking in a very poignant moment. This woman's mundane script selling potatoes has made me realize for the first time 'I am home'.
4th April - "Linh Phan extracting all the words straight out of my mind through her own story, everything I'm feeling she has felt . The beeps from the motor cycles and vehicles continue to fart away in the background as we talk. I enjoy it.
5th April - "Manzi Gallery, such elegance and beauty, can't believe this is here. Munch Munch with Fabiola.
6th April - "burst in to tears, haven't stopped, a flood of water pours out over my script". I also discover I wouldn't be much different if I grew up in gere in Nam. One big question answered!"
"Nhung Nguyen from Sound Awakener so talented. I want to collaborate with this girl one day"
7th April - "Saigon is melting me! where's colonial Vietnam gone, not as many old ladies sitting on the side walk and bicycles selling steam buns and sweet potato?! I go to a friends BBQ and I'm so aware of my strong British accent. It sounds strange"
"easing up my grip on the back of Fabiola's motor cycle now, loving the wind in my hair, visual feast"
8th April - "All the Viet Kieu's describe the same instinctive feeling before they made the decision to move their whole lives back to Vietnam, that's exactly what's going on inside me. Linh's crazy cat attacking me : o"
"So much to learn from the local Vietnamese, Fabs is more Vietnamese than I am. It's much more difficult to be an Artist here, but what drives these individuals? Dinh Q Le and these artists are paving the way"
9th April - "raid a vintage stall in Saigon, try on some hats, ponce around a night market with Letting going and letting loose for the first time on the trip"
9th April - "Vietnam is saying yes to new contemporary art space"
10th April - "The Vietnamese streets of Saigon offer a 1 hour massage for £4, ridiculous"
10th April - "Final evening, 10 days to undo myth and fear, now a strong desire bursting inside me to come back, to come back home! But also aware the journey has only just begun!"
14th Nov - if you asked me now where I am from and how do I define myself? I wouldn't say I'm Vietnamese and neither would I identify with being British, but with a new sense of joy and confidence I would answer 'I am exactly and deliberately so 'British Vietnamese'. Do I want to return to Vietnam? Absolutely, I am itching to bring my artistry back to Vietnam and share it with her. I also feel kess of a need to make work about my identity...relief!