Mexican artist finds new inspirations in Việt Nam
By Hương Thu
Mexican contemporary artist Roberto Arcaute has chosen Việt Nam as the final destination in his journey to finish his latest installation project.
The project, named Union: Narrations of a Civilisation, aims to convey a message about the environment. Its idea is to take and copy everyday waste objects and reproduce them in porcelain sculptures with all their labelling information in blue.
It will feature nine sculptures generated from different waste that the artist has selected. Three sculptures are based on the selection of domestic waste that is normally generated in the home like paper, glass, plastic bottles; three others are based on the selection of urban waste that is normally generated in areas where people coexist and the rest on based on the selection of commercial waste from offices, restaurants, and stores, usually food, paper, or cardboard.
In the later phase of the project, he intends to select some of the finished objects to create a form of conglomerate type mass with the help of clay, cement and oven heat.
He said: “The word UNION in this project refers to something obtained by conglomeration (gathering, piling up, and joining fragments). The project proposes to show how a narrative of a consumer society is constructed and how its waste can be reincorporated into our civilisation from reproductions of itself.”
The 46-year-old artist has pursued Union: Narrations of a Civilisation for five years under the sponsorship of the Mexican government. He conducted parts of his project in Mexico, the US, China and several others before coming to Việt Nam.
He first came to the country eight years ago as a tourist and had the opportunity to have first-hand experience of local culture. He was particularly impressed with Vietnamese handmade pottery due to its sophistication and uniqueness and decided to finalise his installation project in Bát Tràng Ceramic Village on his second visit.
He added: “Việt Nam has a culture similar to other countries in the region but also has its own identity and pottery is an example. The clay in Bát Tràng Village is different from the places I’ve been to. In addition, a most striking feature in each product is the craftsmanship.
“I have travelled to Jingdezhen Town, the ceramic capital of China. But I was still impressed on how meticulous it takes for each Bát Tràng artisan to create the best version of their works. They don’t focus on mass production.
“It has been a great adventure to have this visual experience. I think Bát Tràng is becoming famous in the world and soon we will hear much more about this wonderful area of Việt Nam.”
It took him a while to find the appropriate pottery workshop and kiln. Eventually he found one that could provide him with English-speaking assistants and a space to work without affecting its daily production.
It didn’t take him long to get accustomed to his new life and discover more exciting aspects from the simple things of city life.
Every day, the Mexican artist drives his motorbike from his apartment in the centre of Hà Nội to Bát Tràng Province, about 10km away. Possessing an international driver’s license, driving a motorbike has caused him no difficulties, unlike many other foreigners who might feel afraid of heavy traffic in the capital city.
“I leave home early in the morning and return at sunset,” he said. “Along the way, I always hear very special sounds. People say it’s the sound of summer cicadas. It was the first time in my life that I heard such sounds.
“Another interesting thing is that Hà Nội has a lot of rivers and lakes and it rains frequently this season. I find the climate here wonderful. My hometown is in Monterrey, a dry area with many deserts, hills and having no natural water source, so when I saw Hà Nội with many rivers and lakes, I was extremely excited. Whenever crossing the Red River, I often try to slow down to enjoy the view.
“The most important wealth is the kindness of every person and also the spirit of work that could be seen everyday. Without a doubt, that makes Việt Nam different from other countries.”
Arcaute has also been collaborating with the Mexican Embassy in Việt Nam to conduct a series of art activities, like a conference at the Việt Nam University of Fine Arts.
“I feel very lucky because it is not easy to win such art support in my country,” he said.
Arcaute plans to have Union: Narrations of a Civilisation exhibited in both Mexico and Việt Nam next year, and at the same time, publish a book describing the entire project in four languages: Spanish, English, Chinese and Vietnamese.
The Mexican artist also revealed that he would like to travel to HCM City, Đà Nẵng and several other destinations during his next visit to explore the native culture, which might inspire him with his future works. VNS
Playground by Google equips children with cyber self-protection skills
HÀ NỘI — Children can learn how to protect themselves and embrace cyber civility though diverse interactive activities taking place at the Children’s Palace in Hà Nội.
The activities are among the Online Safety Playground event organised by Google on the occasion of International Children’s Day (June 1), aiming to raise awareness and enhance knowledge on self-protection and courtesy in the online environment for children and parents.
As summer comes, children have more time to go online. According to a survey by the Department of Children’s Affairs (Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs) in 2022, Vietnamese children are spending 5-7 hours a day on social networks. Vietnamese children must be equipped with essential skills and knowledge on selecting healthy, age-appropriate information for themselves. Moreover, parents in Viet Nam have become more concerned about their children’s online safety, and 64.1 per cent of parents have sought to improve their technological knowledge in order to teach their children about this topic, according to a survey by Google in 2023.
Understanding the practical needs of Vietnamese families, a discussion has been organised at the Online Safety Playground event to provide parents with comprehensive information on the topic of online safety for children. Featuring the family of the movie producer Lý Hải – Minh Hà, educational experts, and a Google representative, the discussion focused on improving parents’ skills and equipping them with knowledge about Internet safety, so that they are capable of guiding their children to effectively experience the online environment, especially in the summer when children spend more time on the Internet.
Alongside the discussion targeting parents, at the event, an interactive playground for children has also been introduced with many fun games, providing them with knowledge, while building up their self-protection skills and online courtesy.
This is also the first time educational games from the “Be Internet Awesome – Safer with Google” project have been deployed offline, helping children learn five fundamental rules: Be Smart – Be Alert – Be Strong – Be Kind – Be Brave while playing familiar games online.
At the same time, parents can experience many helpful content management applications such as YouTube Kids, YouTube Family Link, and YouTube SupeX. They will learn how to direct their children toward healthy content, and set restrictions to prevent children from accessing inappropriate content.
“Through the Online Safety Playground playground, Google and YouTube are committed to continuing to expand the programme to more schools, teachers, and students this year, thereby helping more children gain great benefits from the Internet in a safer space,” said Marc Woo, Managing Director for Việt Nam, Google APAC. — VNS
Sơn La festival promotes local tourism and ethnic culture
SƠN LA — Hundreds of artists staged a stunning performance to open the Sơn La Province’s Tourism and Cultural Festival on Saturday night at the Mộc Châu National Tourism Area in the northern mountainous province.
Standing vice-chairman of the National Assembly (NA) Trần Thanh Mẫn, former standing vice-chairwoman of the NA, Tòng Thị Phóng, Chairman of the NA’s Ethnic Council Y Thanh Hà Niê K’đăm, and Sơn La Provincial Party Secretary Nguyễn Hữu Đông, participated in the event.
Themed “The World’s Leading Regional Nature Destination”, the festival is an opportunity to connect cultural-tourism products, promote tourism development, attract investment in tourism, and simultaneously create distinctive tourism products.
Speaking to open the festival, the Chairman of the Sơn La Provincial People’s Committee, Hoàng Quốc Khánh, said that the festival is not only to create a new development step for Sơn La’s tourism economy but also to strengthen the cooperation between the province and other localities in Việt Nam and other countries.
“This is also an opportunity for businesses in the tourism industry to improve their product quality associated with conserving and promoting cultural identities,” he said. “The distinctive, professional, and attractive tourism products can magnet domestic and international tourists.”
The festival features an interesting agenda of diversified activities presenting unique local ethnic culture. Those include the plum harvesting festival in Mộc Châu District, home to the best plums in Việt Nam.
An off-road motor race in Vân Hồ District and a photo contest are also on the festival agenda. Festival-goers can learn about the rich culture of various ethnic groups living in the province through the display presenting traditional costumes and typical architecture or through a fair showcasing ethnic gastronomy and handicraft products made by ethnic people.
“Through their own experience at the festival, visitors will have an impression of special unique tourism products that present the ethnic identity of Sơn La Province as well as the warm hospitality of Sơn La people,” Chairman Khánh said. “They can also realise the transformation and development of the province, being a great place to visit.”
Also at the opening ceremony on Saturday, founder and president of the World Travel Awards, Graham Cooke, has given a trophy to honour Mộc Châu-Vân Hồ in Sơn La as “The World’s Leading Regional Natural Destination” in 2022. — VNS
A memorable summer with fireworks and fun festivals in Đà Nẵng
ĐÀ NẴNG Colourful fireworks performances at the Đà Nẵng International Fireworks Festival (DIFF), together with numerous cultural festivals at Bà Nà Hills, promise to offer tourists an unforgettable summer.
Magic of fireworks
The vibrant summer days in the coastal city of Đà Nẵng will begin with the return of DIFF 2023.
Taking place from June 2 to July 8 by the Hàn River, the event will feature stunning fireworks performances by international teams, including the UK, Italy, Poland, France, Australia, Canada, Finland and the host team Đà Nẵng.
Through five nights with five different themes: “Peace for Humanity”, “Love without Borders”, “Conquering Dreams”, “Dance of Nature”, and “World without Distance”, the fireworks performances will send the audience a special note honouring the recovery of world tourism after the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the festival, the night sky in Đà Nẵng will turn out to be a perfect backdrop for beautiful paintings created by colourful and splendid fireworks performances.
The Polish team will showcase the Firework Dragon, while the British team will stage the Light Up The World presenting the human resilience to overcome the global pandemic.
The host Việt Nam has prepared an extremely elaborate light show with the theme Đà Nẵng – Peaceful Timbre, Canada and France will amaze spectators with Northern Lights and Colours of Hope, while Italy and Australia will offer a feast of light and music.
Festivals at Bà Nà Hills
Alongside DIFF 2023, this summer, at Sun World Bà Nà Hills, tourists can enjoy several festivals, which are among a series of events called Bà Nà WOW Festival – Wonderland without Distance.
The best culture and art of different countries in the world will all be presented at the wonderland of Bà Nà. The bustling atmosphere of the German Oktoberfest will be recreated, offering tourists a chance to enjoy one of the biggest festivals in the world, where festival-goers can sip 20 different kinds of beer while enjoying famous cuisine.
During June, fans of Hallyu or Korean Wave will be able to “live their passion” with the Korean Cultural Festival. Trendy K-pop songs, exciting dances, popular dishes, and several traditional Korean games, will be presented at Bà Nà.
On June 3, Vietnamese celebrity singer Hồ Ngọc Hà will have her concert Love Songs – Love Vietnam, which is expected to be a special entertainment event for music lovers.
In July, visiting Bà Nà, any tourist who is in love with French culture and French wine, will be delighted with a series of activities honouring French culture, of which the celebration of “100 Years of Bà Nà Wine Cellar” will be a highlight.
Besides, tourism-magnet hotspots such as Golden Bridge, Moon Castle, and the French Village, promise to enhance the excitement of tourists visiting Bà Nà.
Specialities of ‘kimchi land’
Coming to Đà Nẵng this summer, alongside the DIFF 2023, guests can also enjoy a full agenda of impressive activities at Asia Park.
A hotspot for young people, the ongoing “M-Pack Festival & Carnival Street Food” features a beer and soju [a Korean alcoholic drink made from rice or sweet potatoes] festival, K-pop dance, and food carnival.
DJ parties will be held every Saturday with the performance of popular DJs. In addition, art shows presenting Vietnamese traditional art forms, and K-pop concerts will be taking place monthly until September 20.
If tourists want to fly high into the clouds and enjoy the Đà Nẵng City landscape from a bird’s-eye view, they should take a hot air balloon flight available for the first time at Asia Park.
Especially, Asia Park provides a special offer for pupils and students with all-in-one tickets for only VNĐ120,000. With this ticket, junior visitors can enjoy all the outdoor games and a ride on the Sun Wheel to contemplate the panorama of Đà Nẵng City from above. They can also enjoy puppet shows by guest artists from the Huế Theatre.
Shows across the city
The DIFF 2023 will not only light up the Hàn River but also bring the hectic atmosphere to every popular sightseeing spot across the city with numerous art and cultural shows.
During June, the Street Music and Magic programme will take place in Southern Park on the west bank of the Dragon Bridge.
Different kinds of Vietnamese traditional music will be presented every Saturday and Sunday night during June and July on the east bank of the Dragon Bridge, on Trần Hưng Đạo Road.
Exhibitions displaying antique ceramic objects, and traditional Japanese dolls are taking place at the Đà Nẵng Museum and the Đà Nẵng Museum of Fine Arts, respectively.
The photo exhibition The Colourful Conversation of Two Rivers at the APEC Park is another suggestion for visiting tourists. VNS
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