Research trip by Rirkrit Tiravanija and Gridthiya Gaweewong in HCM city and Hanoi
The curators of Saigon Open City, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Gridthiya Gaweewong, just finished their 8-day trip researching Vietnam ’s modern and contemporary art, from June 10th to June 18th, in Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Noi. This was part of a series of research trips to prepare the first of the three exhibitions of Saigon Open City with the titles “Liberation”, “Unification” and “Re-construction”.
The trip had a full agenda and brought many new experiences about Vietnam , providing the curators with clearer conceptions and ideas for the show. The curators met and worked with the Fine Arts Museum, the War Remnant Museum , and the Southern Women Museum in Ho Chi Minh City . These museums are not only planned to be the major venues for the “Liberation” show, they will also work closely with Saigon Open City on the content, providing contribution from their own collections.
During the trip, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Gridthiya Gaweewong and the board of directors of the project visited studios of some Vietnamese old masters like Quach Phong, Le Hong Hai, Le Thanh Tru (Ho Chi Minh City) as well as Van Da, Huy Toan (Ha Noi) and met some artists of the Vietnamese Army like Bang Lam, Pham Ngoc Doanh, Trinh Ba Quat, Nguyen Cuong, Giang Khich, Pham Viet, Pham Ngoc Lieu, Do Thi Ninh, Mai San (Ha Noi). The meetings with the masters, great artists and witnesses of the times but now living in oblivion created deep impressions and great respect from the project team. The “Liberation” show will have one area dedicating to these artists. Also, efforts to archive the works of the artists are being planned.
The curators met about 50 contemporary artists in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi , who presented and discussed their work in the group. A meeting with galleries and alternative spaces in Ho Chi Minh City was also organized as a first activity to include these players into the project.
In Hanoi , the curators have an exchange with students of the Hanoi Fine Arts University. In Goethe Institut, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Gridthiya Gaweewong gave a talk to a full house, speaking about their artistic and curatorial work, as well as about the Saigon Open City project. The audience was truly fascinated and engaged in a lively discussion.
The curators have been also interviewed by the Vietnamese TV and newspapers about the project.
The opening of the exhibition “Liberation” is planned to be on November 25th, 2006.  Information will be constantly updated on the website.