A new exhibition at Durham University’s Palace Green Library explores national identity, migration, cultural diversity, faith and belonging in Vietnam.
This year sees the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War and yet, for many of us, war is still the first thing that comes to mind when we think of Vietnam.
Palace Green Library’s current exhibition Vietnam: A Nation, not a War seeks to bring much more of the Vietnamese nation to life.
Using a mix of historic and contemporary objects from the collections of Durham University’s Oriental Museum, together with works by British artist Anthony Key, the exhibition aims to challenge our perceptions of national identity.
Anthony Key’s playful works in the exhibition include Trespassing (2000), which takes the form of a large reel of barbed wire made out of noodles, Wok/Satellite Dish (1997), and Peking Ducks (2015).
Curator Rachel Barclay says: “Anthony is well known for works that explore cultural identity. In his practice he focuses on food as both subject matter and the raw ingredients with which to make artwork. Anthony’s experience as a migrant to Britain is powerfully expressed in his works.”
Vietnam: A Nation, not a War builds on research currently being undertaken at Durham University by Dr Claire Sutherland, a specialist in Southeast Asian politics within the School of Government and International Affairs, and Dr Edyta Roszko, a Durham research fellow and anthropologist.
Dr Sutherland says: “My research focuses on the assumptions underlying contemporary nation-building. The exhibition explores themes such as national identity, cultural diversity and belonging in Vietnam and draws comparisons with the UK. We hope that this exhibition will allow visitors to stop and think about their own views on these issues while also learning much more about the incredible culture of Vietnam.”