For the Month of Arts Practice by the Heritage Space Hanoi, three classic sculptures of modern art were rebuilt as inflatable objects: Endless Column by Constantin Brancusi 1938, Broken Obelisk by Barnett Newman 1966 and Recumbent Figure by Henry Moore 1938. The selection is based on the search for iconic sculptures for the age of modernism (1930-1970) and its understanding of universalism. These sculptures could be seen as ancestors of public art and even if the subject had a vast development since these days, the utopian aspects and the idea of autonomous sculptures are worth re-visiting.
Having lightweight inflatable objects instead of steel, stone or bronze sculptures, makes them more movable and combines monumentality with flexibility – in this case the plan, to erect the objects temporarily on different places in Hanoi. And the new materiality makes the iconic sculptures negotiable – they appear more like a toolkit for public spaces.
The title Family Constellations refers to an alternative therapeutic method, where participants are placed in a room and this spatial constellation should help to solve traumas or communication conflicts. The method is unsound and full of prejudice, but delivers quick results and so remains popular. Applying this to public spaces in Hanoi, challenges general questions of its specific uses and models of artistic engagement. As the Constellations are never solid and many different aspects should be seen, it was important to install the Family on different places throughout the city.
The selection of sculptures (which also can be seen as artistic ancestors) and the associated conception of public space is of course a very European idea. Even if there is barely any public art like this to be found in Hanoi, the urban spaces aren’t blank. There are many overlapping layers of uses, interests and representations – to call them polyvalent spaces seems more appropriate. On every site of installation, Family Constellation encountered existing market, parking, sport or gathering places, propaganda sculptures or feng shui objects. These meetings were documented and a video montage was shown in the exhibition together with the toolkit of inflatables.
Three inflatable objects, made out of nylon, metal framework and electrical air blowers: Column, dimensions length 0,8m × width 0,8m × height 9,8m Obelisk, dimensions length 1,8m × width 0,8m × height 4,6m Figure, dimensions length 3,0m × width 1,4m × height 2,2m Video Family Constellation, Hanoi, Vietnam, 10 min, HD Realized with the help of: Nguyễn Anh Tuấn and Vũ Huy Thông - coordination in Vietnam Trần Trọng Tri and Lê Hùng - framework and installations Nguyễn Thùy Dương, Nguyễn Lê Minh and Nguyễn Út Quyên - assistance Shuling Yuan - coordination in China and video documentation Inflatables made by Guangzhou Bingo Inflatables Co., Ltd, China Special thanks to: Dolphin Plaza Vietnam University of Fine Arts, Vice Chancellor Mr. Le Van Suu and the Dean of the Sculpture Department Ms. Mai Thu Vân University of Industrial Fine Arts, Vice Chancellor Mr. Nguyễn Xuân Nghị and Lecturer for Sculpture Mr. Vũ Hữu Nhung VINASINCO and Mr. Nguyễn Khang - Chief of resident committee of 34T building