Nhớ: Space Between One End and the Other
This is the first exhibition of art of the Vietnamese diaspora in Slovakia. It encourages us to reflect on the fact that Slovakia is much more multicultural and vibrant than we often think. During the period of state socialism, from the 1950s to the 1980s, the mobility of university students and migrant workers (from other Eastern Bloc countries and the Global South) was an important aspect of economic and political state-building in Central and Eastern Europe. The exhibition is a sensory space and an invitation to dialogue, where personal memories can be shared and (re)discovered. The word Nhớ here is a metaphor for how a person living in the diaspora shapes their own story composed of memories and various longings for home. While the exhibition does not aim to retell the story of French colonization, the Vietnam War, or American involvement in Vietnam, all of these events are nevertheless intertwined in the (hi)stories, personal family memories, and transgenerational traumas of the exhibiting artists. There are glimpses of trauma and loss in the works on display, but what unites these works overall, and what this exhibition focuses on, is our relationship to families. It looks for personal stories. What generational traumas do we carry within us? How does our relationship to family history inform and shape who we are? How do we preserve memories and how do they influence our present emotions? Memories can become a form of resistance; remembering can act as a way of presenting a diasporic, otherwise non-linear history. This international group exhibition, while basing its examples and stories on the second generation of the Vietnamese diaspora, wants to tell a more complex story about identity, culture, belonging, and how we are shaped and influenced by our families, as well as the society around us.