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 about identity, who we are? what defines us? why we are the way we are? As a British Vietnamese Producer 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; meeting some of Vietnam's emerging and leading artists, both locally and 'abroad'. 

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO LISTEN TO THE FULL PROGRAM ON BBC RADIO 4

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO LISTEN TO THE FULL PROGRAM ON BBC RADIO 4

WORD DIARY

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 to 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, a strange feeling is growing inside me, its the feeling of becoming the dominant race" 

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 cycles, 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; it’s the first time I realise 'I am home'.

4th April - "Artist Linh Phan taking on the all words out of my mouth as she explains about her own story. The sounds of beeping and honking motor cycles doesn’t stop even for this moment”

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 have been much different if my mother never left. One big question answered!"

7th April - "Saigon is melting me! where's colonial Vietnam gone? where are all the old ladies sitting on the side walk and the bicycles selling steam buns?! 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"

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"

"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?"

9th April - "raid a vintage stall in Saigon, try on some hats, ponce around a night market, letting going and letting loose"

9th April - "Vietnam is saying yes to new the 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 back my gifts and talents to Vietnam”

M E E T  T H E  A R T I S T S

A GREENPOINT PRODUCTION FOR BBC RADIO 4