WORCESTER, MA.- Changing Identity provides an opportunity to see Vietnam through the eyes of women artists offering unique perspectives on their homeland and their gender roles in society. The exhibition explores what it means to be a woman living in Vietnam today and brings to light a viewpoint often marginalized in Vietnamese culture. Previously overlooked by the international art world, the 10 artists featured in Changing Identity challenge their traditional roles through drawing, painting, photography, performance, sculpture, and video.
To be a woman, an artist and Vietnamese is, in the words of filmmaker and scholar Trinh T. Minh-Ha, a triple bind. They are restricted not only in their own culture, which presupposes that women are to remain devoted to their fathers, husbands and sons, but also by the Wests perceptions of Vietnamese women as victims of war and subjects of the male gaze made familiar by such icons as Miss Saigon and the servant girl in the film A Scent of Green Papaya.
For the past two decades, since Vietnam opened its doors to the West, a booming art business has brought economic prosperity to many of the countrys artists. Most of this success, however, seems to have been bestowed upon men. Today, in light of economic changes sweeping over the country in the era of globalization, a younger generation of women find themselves in a position to critique prevailing norms and to question the status quo. The artists in Changing Identity are such women: independent and complex, their outlook on Vietnamese society displayed in their artwork is challenging and honest.
Nora Taylor, Ph.D., curator for the exhibition, is Alsdorf Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago specializing in modern Vietnamese art. In 2004-05, she was a Fulbright Scholar in Hanoi, Vietnam conducting research on Vietnamese visual culture in the era of globalization. She has written for many publications and lectured on this topic throughout the world.