The Mistake Room Presents | Contemporary art from Vietnam

by Dona Ibrahim

Los Angeles’ contemporary art scene is inclusive, vibrant and thought-provoking, and with one of the largest Vietnamese-American communities in the United States, the arrival of an exhibition highlighting artists from Vietnam and the diaspora is long overdue.

The Mistake Room, “a platform for art, ideas, and practices fueled by radical imagination” presents: “Where the Sea Remembers”—a survey of recent contemporary art from Vietnam. This exhibition in particular highlights formal and informal conversations with artists that are currently living and working in Vietnam. This exhibition also aims to “provide cultural insights into a recent moment with transformative implications for Vietnamese artists as well as the region’s cultural landscape.”

The exhibition is part of The Mistake Room’s 2019-2020 curatorial cycle titled, Histories of a Vanishing Present which seeks to “elaborate new vocabularies to grapple with identity politics through the lives and works of a generation of artists who’ve inherited pasts that don’t directly belong to them.”

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Offering a glimpse into the recent past, and the trials and tribulations that come with it, this exhibition also highlights “several tendencies of the moment including, amongst others, the desire to question and re-imagine officially sanctioned History and challenge paradigms that site the Vietnam’s creative production solely within the context of the US-Vietnam war.”

The exhibition is organized into three sections and the attending artists will delve into how they create new ideas about cultural heritage and nationalism.

Stephen O. Lesser, a veteran LA-based art collector and advocate for Asian art says, “I am delighted to be one of the sponsors of this exhibition of young artists from Vietnam. Having traveled there on numerous occasions, I have been looking for a way to present lesser-known aspects of Vietnamese culture and introduce them to a wider audience. This is the first such major exhibition in Los Angeles, uniting artists living in Vietnam as well as Vietnamese artists living throughout the world .”

César García-Alvarez, The Mistake Room’s Executive & Artistic Director, adds on to say, “We are honored to be able to stage a project that while seemingly distant to the context of Los Angeles is in fact deeply interrelated to our city through the stories and experiences of Southern California’s Vietnamese-American community.”

He goes on to say, “This is by no means a comprehensive show. It is an introduction that we hope will highlight some of the conditions informing the practices of artists working in Vietnam today as well as the broader complex relationships that Vietnamese artists in the Diaspora have with their homeland .”

This event is organized by The Mistake Room, Anna Borisova (Key Organizer of the exhibition), Nicolas Orozco-Valdivia (TMR Associate Curator), Kris Kuramitsu (TMR Deputy Director & Head of Program), and César García-Alvarez (Executive & Artistic Director).

You can find more information here.


This exciting exhibition will run from Saturday, July 13, with the reception taking place from 6-8pm—September 14th and will have a public reception on Saturday, July 13 from 6—8 PM.