Art in the Age of Doi Moi

This project presents an array of documents pertaining to the period of Vietnamese History known as Doi Moi or Renovation. Doi Moi refers to the decision made by the Vietnamese Communist Party’s VIth Party Congress to liberalize the Vietnamese economy and allow growth in the private sector. Although art and culture were never addressed at the Congress proper, the impetus for change in cultural policy was made official at that time. There is still some debate over the exact dates and the exact nature of renovation in art. Some consider liberalization in art to have taken place a decade earlier after the country was reunified and artists from the North were exposed to the works of their colleagues in the South. Others see renovation taking place under the editorship of Nguyen Quan at the journal My Thuat from 1984-1989. What is certain is that Vietnamese art has gradually been released from government control since the early 1980s culminating in Vietnamese contemporary artists participation in today’s global art market.

The documents presented here were assembled by Natalia Kraevskaia, owner and co-director of Salon Natasha, Hanoi’s first non-governmental art space; Dr. Nora Taylor, Art Historian, School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Dr. Boitran Huynh-Beattie, independent curator, Sydney, Australia. They include records of the activities of Salon Natasha in the form of photographs, artists’ portfolios and exhibition materials. They also include copies of the Saigon edition of the journal My Thuat (Fine Art) and two video interviews of Natalia Kraevskaia and former Secretary Luong Xuan Doan.

Salon Natasha played an instrumental role in fostering experimental art practices in Hanoi. The “Salon” was housed in the home of artist Vu Dan Tan and Natalia Kraevskaia on Hang Bong street, in the heart of the capital. It had been Tan’s childhood family home as well and later his studio. The couple opened their home to artists in 1984 and began creating an exhibition program that included thematic shows, one person retrospectives and commissioned work. The door to the space was always open to visitors and guests who were welcomed with tea and candy. Salon Natasha was unique in that it was not managed by a government organization and therefore was not about State politics. And yet, thanks to outsider status and its nurturing of unofficial art practices, more than any institution it stood for the concept of renovation in art.

To learn more about Đổi Mới, please see Dr. Nora A. Taylor's "What is ̣Đổi Mới in Art?"