Well Settled, an exhibition of works engaging with the largest known British-Vietnamese community archive in the UK, opens at LUX in November. The exhibition features work by CREAM’s Dr George Clark, together with new commissioned artworks for the exhibition by Nhà Sàn Collective, Moi Tran and Lưu Chữ, as well as broadcast commissions by Cường Minh Bá Phạm, Trà My Hickin, Stefan Khánh Nielsen, Thierry Phung, Nic Annette Miller and Koa Pham. The works explore questions of cultural heritage, archival care and inter-local exchange to help activate the newly constituted An Việt Archives.
In 2021, Hackney Archives and the Hackney Chinese Community Services received a grant from the National Archives enabling them to rescue the An Việt Archives. This nationally significant archive of historical documents held by the An Viet Foundation (AVF) was almost lost when their former building in Hackney was squatted. The AVF was set up in Hackney in 1981 to support Vietnamese settlement in London after the Second Indochina War. It was a central hub for Vietnamese families; providing support with housing, health outreach, English language, and mother-tongue classes. An Việt Archives is supported by a voluntary steering committee to help open the collection to a diverse range of communities.
Well Settled presents a series of new works reflecting on the collection and proposing new models for how archives and shared heritage can be activated and made accessible. Clark is a member of the An Việt Archives steering committee, working alongside Cường Minh Bá Phạm, Trà My Hickin, Toan Vu, Tasmin Barber and Georgina Quanch. Working with the team, Clark has been the artistic coordinator of the year-long initiative Well Settled: Activating the An Việt Archives, which commissioned the artist projects and activities. In Summer 2023, the team worked closely with the An Việt Archives to develop a series of workshops to engage communities in the shaping of the collection and to contribute directly to how the archive will be constituted in the future.
The Scattered Body or A World Unclouded by Dust
Clark’s new film The Scattered Body or A World Unclouded by Dust is the culmination of his long-term collaborative project initiated in 2021, Handle with Care, which sought to facilitate dialogue and exchange, and to explore experimental ways of working with artists and archives through an artist residency programme and workshops. Rooted in an expanded idea of ‘archives’, the project explored means of articulating memories from the personal to the collective and in the process proposed new ways to care for history and activate diverse collections.
As George Clark states:
“The Scattered Body or A World Unclouded by Dust is a new two channel installation work developed with contributions from many artists and in response to two distinct collections one in Hackney and one in Hanoi. The film takes inspiration from a short story by the Vietnamese writer and filmmaker Đoàn Lê called ‘The Cemetery of Chua Village’ which is told from the perspective of the dead buried in the cemetery as they await a new arrival. Drawing on this perspective shift, my work seeks to locate itself away from what can be extracted from an archive to focus instead on how ‘dead’ archival objects themselves exist in the world and what might constitute their dreams, memories or desires.
The film involves many people with contributions from Bui Linh Hà, Tạ Minh Đức, Nguyễn Hải Yến, Lâm Duy Phương, James Olivio, David McShane, Trà My Hickin, Keren Kuenberg, Cường Minh Bá Phạm and is indebted to the legacy of An Viet Foundation founder Vũ Khánh Thành who passed away on 21 April 2022.”
A simultaneous exhibition will be presented in Vietnam at The Outpost, Hanoi, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Nhà Sàn studio.
Well Settled is supported by the British Council as part of the UK/Vietnam Season 2023, Hackney Archives, Nhà Sàn Collective, LUX, Outpost, Á Space and the University of Westminster.