Tran Luong (1960, Vietnam), performance and visual artist and independent curator
Tran Luong is a key player in advancing critical contemporary art in North Vietnam. He creates innovative new media artworks, has founded numerous spaces for alternative art and collaboration, and mentors a new generation of artists in a context of censorship and cultural conformity.
Report from the 2014 Prince Claus Awards Committee
Tran Luong (1960, Hanoi) is a performance and visual artist, independent curator and major figure in creating space for critical contemporary art in North Vietnam. Among the first local artists to experiment with performance and video, his artwork is grounded in local experience. Challenging socio-political legacies and policies that repress individual expression, his work offers moving reflections on the impact of ideology on the body, particularly the internalisation of political repression at a young age, in works such as Lap Loe (2007-2013).
Active in making opportunities for artists, Tran co-founded the Gang of Five (1983-1996), which organised monthly exhibitions in alternative spaces. In 1998, he co-founded Nha San Studio, the country’s first, artist-led, experimental art space, and curated the majority of its exhibitions in the initial four years. Founding director of the national Hanoi Contemporary Art Centre in 2000, he resigned in 2003 in protest at government corruption.
Committed to taking art to the people to generate debate on ways of living, his collaborative projects include the Mao Khe Art Project, involving workshops with a rural mine-workers’ community, and On the Banks of Red River, presenting interactive performance in an impoverished area of Hanoi.
A generous mentor of youth and curator of exhibitions locally and abroad, Tran Luong goes beyond normal curatorship. He encourages performers to push the boundaries, negotiates censorship with the authorities, creates exchanges and collaborations between North and South Vietnam and with other countries in the region, brings diasporan artists back and hosts international artists.
Tran Luong is awarded for his moving artworks that critique repression, emphasise human resilience and empower the individual through personal action and self-reflection; for his dedicated energy in developing spaces, initiatives, networks and communities for performance and video arts in Vietnam and regionally; for supporting alternative visions in a context of censorship and conformity; and for his commitment to freedom of expression, international dialogue, community enrichment and nurturing younger generations.