Talk with Phoebe Scott

21 June, 2023

Worker, Farmer, Solider, Repeat? Contemporary Art After Socialist Realism

Contemporary art is often understood in relation to modernism, and seen as a response to the kind of art that came before it. But what does this mean when, as in the case of Vietnam, much of the art of the modern period was socialist realism? Socialist realism was an art form with its own theories, aesthetics and systems. How does this historical background affect the development of Vietnamese contemporary art, or the way individual artists have approached their practice? This talk will highlight case studies from within Vietnamese contemporary art – including works by Tran Luong, Nguyen Trinh Thi, Nguyen Manh Hung and The Propeller Group – proposing readings of the artworks informed by the history of socialist realism, as well as considering how contemporary art has developed elsewhere in the socialist world.

Phoebe Scott is a Senior Curator and Curator of Research Publications at National Gallery Singapore. Her curatorial projects include Between Declarations and Dreams: Art of Southeast Asia since the 19th Century (2015–ongoing), the inaugural exhibition of the National Gallery’s Southeast Asia galleries; Reframing Modernism: Painting from Southeast Asia, Europe and Beyond (2016); and most recently, Familiar Others: Emiria Sunassa, Eduardo Masferré and Yeh Chi Wei, 1940s–70s (2022–2023). She is also an Adjunct Lecturer in art history at the National University of Singapore. Prior to joining the Gallery, Phoebe completed her PhD on the subject of modern Vietnamese art.