May - December 2022

Curated by Ace Le


EMASI Nam Long (D.7) – Wednesday & Friday |
10:00AM – 04:00PM
EMASI Van Phuc (D.Thu Duc) – Tuesday & Thursday |
10:00AM – 04:00PM
*and every last Saturday of the month

Nguyen Art Foundation (NAF) proudly presents ‘Illuminated Curiosities’, a group exhibition with the participation of 26 artists featuring 46 artworks from within and outside NAF’s Collection

The exhibition will take place simultaneously across the campuses of EMASI Nam Long and EMASI Van Phuc, over the course of six months from May to December of 2022. During this period, curatorial tours, additional symposia, and programs will be organized in both spaces and/or virtually.

‘Illuminated Curiosities’ is curated by art researcher Ace Le, with the curatorial assistance from Duong Manh Hung and Tam Nguyen. The exhibition is a collaborative effort between Nguyen Art Foundation and Lan Tinh Foundation.

Curatorial concept
The earliest form of the natural history museum existed in 16th-century Europe under the name of “cabinet of curiosities”, originally private boudoirs of royalties and aristocrats, where exotic objects – from antiques to animal hides, from plants to scientific tools and artworks – were collected and displayed.

The exhibition ‘Illuminated Curiosities’ thus serves as a response to, a critique on, and an expansion of, the age-old concept of “cabinet of curiosities”, borrowing the perspectives of today’s artist-scientists, as they experiment with limits in terms of thematics, materials, and medium to pursue personal and societal curiosities. For us in the 21st century, our curiosities are no longer bound to the walls of these private collections. In both art and science, we have equipped ourselves with groundbreaking tools and methods, and institutional systems have been built specifically for the purpose of challenging limits, unlocking potentials, and discovering wonders. Such curiosities play out on a wide intersectional spectrum between artistic disciplines (painting, sculpture, installation, video, photography, etc.) and natural sciences (geometry, physics, chemistry, anatomy, biology, technology, etc.) along with social sciences (anthropology, linguistics, theology, etc.).

As a framework of reference, the curatorial team has generated eight “points of curiosities” within the intersectional spectrum between science and art, and arranged 46 artworks from 26 artists accordingly across the two campuses of EMASI Nam Long and EMASI Van Phuc. Each “point” (or zone) relates to a thematic or a field, whereby artworks correspond with one or more scientific disciplines, whether in terms of research, production, or display.

Certainly, this categorization does not intend to “box up” artworks into rigid definitions – like what the historical “cabinets of curiosities” strived to achieve – but instead, serve as keywords to generate new conversations. The artworks on display can indeed relate to more than one keyword, and one will need to experience and consider them carefully in order to reach one’s own conclusions. Each viewer is thus invited to restructure and analyze the works based on the “curiosities” that reside within their personal frame of interest, reference and experience.

Participating artists
Bang Nhat Linh, Bui Cong Khanh, Lena Bui, Cam Xanh, Alisa Chunchue, Doan Hoang Lam, Cian Duggan, Regis Golay, Lim Sokchanlina, Tristan Lim, Dinh Q. Le, Le Quy Tong, Lap Phuong, Tuan Mami, Nguyen Kim Duy, Nguyen Kim Thai, Nguyen Phuong Linh, Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai, Nguyen Trinh Thi, UuDam Tran Nguyen, Tuyen Nguyen, Ha Ninh Pham, The Propeller Group, Truong Cong Tung, Lien Truong, Wu Chi-Tsung

About the curatorial team
Ace Le is an independent art researcher and curator. He is the Founding Director of Lan Tinh Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the archiving, research and exhibition of Vietnamese art. He is also the Chief Editor of Art Republik Vietnam, and a founding member of Of Limits curatorial collective – recipient of 2020 Platform Projects Curatorial Award by NTU Centre of Contemporary Arts Singapore. Ace is the Vietnamese representative in the International Arts Leaders 2022 program by the Australia Council for the Arts. Ace holds an MA in Museum Studies and Curatorial Practices, and a Master in Media and Communication from Nanyang Technological University, and a BBA(H) from the National University of Singapore.

Duong Manh Hung is an independent translator/curator. His/her practice weaves textual intricacy with visual subtlety to deliver responses and raise questions about the state of the world. Hung’s interest in the dynamics between visual arts and translation comes from close attention to global and Southeast Asian socio-political histories, particularly through a botanical/ecological lens.

Tam Nguyen is a poet, independent art writer, and apprentice curator, born and raised in the south end of Vietnam. The intersections between his innate interest in neoliberalization in contemporary Vietnamese/Southeast Asian art scenes and memories are, thus, often translated into the marriage between creative and academic writings at large. Tam is currently a junior at Fulbright University Vietnam.

About Lan Tinh Foundation:
Lan Tinh Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Ace Le in 2021 in Singapore, aiming to support the research of Vietnamese contemporary and modern art. Its main projects include an archival database of private collections, exhibition making and publishing, and the Lan Tinh Fellowships for emerging researchers. In the scope of this project, Lan Tinh Foundation will provide support for the outreach program, including webinars and workshops.