Đổi Mới reforms triggered significant changes in the Vietnamese art world, including new institutional spaces, platforms for critical discourse, and growing artistic mobility. However, it is important to question the ways in which the use of Đổi Mới as a blanket indicator of artistic reform has further constructed a homogeneous representation of “Vietnamese contemporary art.” The authors consider the relationship of Đổi Mới to the “globalization” of Vietnamese art with attention to questions of art historiography (the coining of such terms as “post-Đổi Mới Vietnamese art”) and variations in regional developments (positing local art histories against the national narrative).
Since 1995, artists in Vietnam have been staging performance art events in alternative art spaces around Hàà Nôôi and Hôô Chíí Minh City, often defying government restrictions on public gatherings. That they take place outside of the ordinary venues for art, such as galleries and museums, gives these performances an illicit flavor that both attracts and deflects attention. This paper will argue that these art forms originate in a local culture of ritualized displays of emotion and are freeing artists from the constraints of the mainstream art world.