Sunday, January 11, 2009

Art group portrays Vietnamese symbols on canvas

Source: LA Times

An exhibit commissioned by a Vietnamese-American arts group will open in Santa Ana, a display that purposely includes communist symbols, the flag of the fallen country of South Vietnam and artwork that has been banned in Vietnam.

In the middle of the United States’ largest Vietnamese population, the curators hope to challenge sensibilities and provoke discussion in a community where the topic has long been taboo.

Oh boy. Challenging sensibilities of people who have so much hated for anything that symbolizes communist Vietnam.

“I felt the community was on this slippery slope, that we were not progressing toward having open dialogue and being more tolerant of different political viewpoints.”

Eeeep. Open dialogue? Tolerant of different political viewpoints? In America, you can't even get people to be tolerant of Republican-Democratic or Prop 8 let alone COMMUNISM!

Titled “F.O.B. II: Art Speaks,” the name is a play on the pejorative moniker “fresh off the boat,” a term given to immigrants who came to the United States by boat, including hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees who escaped after the Vietnam War was ended.


One of the more provocative pieces is a photograph by Brian Doan of a girl in Vietnam wearing a red tank top with a yellow star. On a table is a small bust of former communist leader Ho Chi Minh and a cell phone.

“This piece uses the communist flag but isn’t celebratory of communism,” said Lan Duong, a co-curator, and assistant professor of media at UC Riverside. “The communist flag isn’t used just as a political symbol, but of what is going on in Vietnam and the kinds of modes of consumption that marks youth culture.”

How can academics be so stupid? A person wearing a red t-shirt with a yellow star in the middle with Ho Chi Minh on her cellphone isn't celebratory of communism? These professors would be mopping the floor in Communist Vietnam. They were fortunate to escape here, now they want to bring us to be tolerant? They have way too much time on their hands.

This is an issue that can't resolved. I don't have a hated for the people of Vietnam even though I am "Viet Kieu". If I was born in Vietnam instead of Canada after the war then I'd be supporting that flag as well. Vietnamese-Americans in Orange County, even though I'm on their side, always go overboard. They'll protest anything! If you don't support them, you're communist.

After being quiet for a few year things were pretty hectic for the Vietnamese-American community with the Foot Spa Flag and Madison Nguyen recall incident. And now they're going to open a new can of worms with this exhibit. Expect a backlash very soon.

1 comment:

Roger Williams said...

On the other hand, symbols such as flags do still retain meanings, and associations. Can anyone understand why it's chic to wear a t-shirt with Che or a hammer and sickle on it, but taboo to wear a t-shirt with a swastika on it? In terms of the practical results (totalitarianism, slave labor, mass murder, genocide) the results were exactly the same. It sounds like the South Vietnamese in Orange County are aware of the power of symbolism.

That said, you can definitely push outrage a step too far. It will be interesting to see where this story goes!