LIGHT AND BELIEF 2012
Dinh Q Lê
Dinh Q Lê
Arts and culture also form a battlefield. And artists are the warriors in that battle. Like any other warriors, artists have specific responsibilities, namely: to serve the revolution, to serve the Nation, and to serve the people, here means the soldiers, the farmers, and the industrial workers […] Arts and culture, like any other activities, cannot separate from but must integrate into economics and politics.
Those are the words of Ho Chi Minh in his letter to Vietnamese artists during the Fine Art Exhibition in 1951. Taking his advice to heart, many artists from different backgrounds entered the war to become soldiers on the field of culture and ideology. Using their pencils, colors, and artistic talent as weapons, they arduously recorded the war scenes: the battles, the artillery, and the everyday life of people in the war. Light and Belief takes us through a journey with narratives from senior artist-soldiers, beautifully embellished with their animated sketches from wartime to shed light on a difficult and haunting period of national in transition towards independence.
Dinh Q Lê has delicately led the conversations with the seniors artists about their experiences witnessing the fate of the Vietnamese people who entered the war with determination and bravery. The artists shared with Lê their process of depicting life during battles (grieving and acknowledging the pain, but choosing to focus on positive scenes instead) and their sense of responsibilities in uplifting the spirit of soldiers (via both heartfelt conversations and propagandic arts). Most importantly, many artists expressed their anxiety about histories being lost as they grow older and their sketches deteriorate. To them, these war sketches are a way to document histories – the events and people that contributed to the liberation of Vietnam. Lê has blended scenes of the senior artists themselves becoming animated sketches in between interviews, to convey the message that the artists are history-weavers – a generation that silently contributed to their country. The story of Le Duy Ung, the volunteer artist who was blinded while recording sketches on battles, reverberates through the film as a testimony to the artists’ sacrifices.
Producer: Tuấn Andrew Nguyễn
Executive producers: Dinh Q. Lê, Shoshana Wayne Gallery, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation
Unit production manager: Nguyễn Hoàng Quân
Research and Interviews: Lena Bùi, Dinh Q. Lê
Director of photography: Phunam
Camera operators: Phunam, Matt Lucero, Nguyễn Nhật Nam, Tuấn Andrew Nguyễn
Editor: Tuan Andrew Nguyễn
Color grading and Online: Phunam
Animation supervisor: Sunha Yoon Salaff
Animation: Sunha Yoon Salaff, Andres Salaff, Esther Shin, Eddie Moreno, Melvina Wong, Joshua Dotson
Score: Richard Horowitz
Re-recording mixer and Dialogue editor: Glen Alger Schricker
Production assistant: Huỳnh Ngô Vân Anh
Post-production assistant: Nguyễn Bích Trà
Artists: Lê Lam, Phan Oánh, Nguyễn Thụ, Trương Hiếu, Dương Ánh, Nguyễn Toàn Thi, Kim Tiến, Vũ Giáng Hương, Quách Phong, Huỳnh Phương Đông, Minh Phương
Artworks by: Dương Ánh, Kim Tiến, Huỳnh Phương Đông, Lê Lam, Minh Phương, Nguyễn Toàn Thi, Phan Oánh, Phan Thanh Châu, Quách Phong, Quang Thọ, Trương Hiếu, Vũ Giáng Hương
Dinh Q Lê (b. 1968, Ha Tien, Vietnam) possesses a diverse practice that is mindful of the complex interweaving of official and non-official histories, particularly in the minds of those who have undergone events whose facts are given little humanity. His work challenges the digital age in its surplus of representational data to force, expand, and reflect upon the significance of each individual image. In 2007, he co-founded San Art (alongside Tuan Andrew Nguyen, Phu Nam Thuc Ha, and Tiffany Chung). Dinh Q Lê is considered one of Vietnam’s most established artists whose practice has an extensive exhibition history worldwide. He lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Special Feature: Vietnam
Sunday, 6 November, 2016