Summer Grasses

Iron and concrete cabinet, ceramic vase, dry grasses and light bulb
Dimensions variable
Bang Nhat Linh
Contemporary Art

Bang Nhat Linh’s Summer Grasses installation is the result of an attempt to realise another artwork, Hero, between 2010 - 2012. Two poems inform the new work. The first is Nam Quoc Son Ha or Mountains and Rivers of the Southern Country, which appears in Chinese characters at the back of the cabinet, illuminated from behind. The 10th century poem is a call to war against the Chinese Song dynasty, and is considered the first declaration of Vietnam. It reads:

The mountains and rivers that carved the southern empire, dwelled by the Southern Emperor.

Its sovereignty is of nature's will and is allotted in script from the heaven. What gives these invaders the right to trespass it. They shall, in doing that, see themselves be defeated and shamed!

The second is the Summer Grasses haiku from the ancient Chinese poet Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), from which the piece takes its title:

Summer grasses:
all that remains
of warrior dreams.

A picture of the current site of the Battle of Bach Dang, the remains of the wooden stakes still visible in what is now swamp land, sits behind the rusted iron and metal cabinet. A ceramic vase painted with scenes of the victory rests on the cabinet’s top, dried summer grasses sprouting from the vase’s mouth. (Text courtesy of the artist)

Summer Grasses is an artwork commissioned by the Nguyen Art Foundation.

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