The Venice Biennale is where art and nations meet to shout out how they always need, but sometimes dislike, each other. For the first exhibition of Vietnamese artists presented as a group, instead of the usual route of accessing Venice via a national pavilion, they appear to have found an excellent platform the name of which cannot be more fitting – Personal Structures.
CUC Gallery is proud that artist Nguyen Van Phuc is selected to be one of 6 Vietnamese artists (groups) in the exhibition 'Salt of the jungle', commemorating the 25th anniversary diplomatic relations, organized by Korea Foundation in Seoul, Korea. This exhitbition focuses on the perspectives of young artists, tracing the rapid changes that these two societies underwent in the past 30 years. The majority of Vietnamese artists here represent the "post-Doi Moi" generation who grew up after the 1986 economic reform. The Korean artists of a similar generation, who had experienced of witnessed the liberalization of overseas travel, the Asian and Olympic Games, and democratic movements, are also often regarded as a unique generation shaped by these new social developments.
The title, "Salt of the Jungle" is borrowed from the novel by the Vietnamese writer Nguyen Huy Thiep. It refers to a flower as white as salt, with blossoms in ther jungle only once in 30 years. It is said to bring peace and prosperity to those that encounter it. In ther novel, an elderly man who had been hunting a male monkeyis shocked to see a distressed female monkey chase after her injured mate. The man, naked as a beast in the humid jungle, curses as he finally gives up. It is in this very moment that he sees the flower. While it is not clear whether this symbolizes a painful revelation for humans - a halt in the course of ruthless destruction of nature and lives - or conversely, a recognition of the beastly human nature which continues to make mistake destruction for signs of prosperity, it is the story's ability to confront this ambivalence that won its acclaim as the most poignant metaphor of the post-Doi Moi reality in Vietnam.
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