Ly Hoang Ly graciously told the visitor who wanted to visit the photography exhibition Dreamer (ongoing at Manzi creative space, Hanoi): “Remember to lie on the wooden board. My daughter lay on it and fell asleep.” Dreamer is Ly Hoang Ly’s latest photo exhibition, also part of an art project 0395A.ĐC. The name of the work came to Ly Hoang Ly by accident when she saw the number of a ship at sea. I chose it for the project about migrations, about bits of history floating somewhere, about culture…”0395A.ĐC debuted at The Factory, Ho Chi Minh City in 2017 and had to continue until now because of the epidemic and many other events,” said Ms. Vu Ngoc Tram, owner of the Manzi creative space.
Manzi’s curator Long Nguyen shared, with DreamerLy Hoang Ly offers up to four concepts in the title of the exhibition:Dreamer: another place, white slabs, silence, grandeur”. That means viewers are asked to play the role of horsemen dreaming, cutting off all memories and experiences to return to the blank canvas of being themselves without prejudice. After that, viewers are allowed to step into the “other place” that she creates with conceptual ideas that are constantly evolving, interconnected through time and physical space.
Installation of the tray tower by Ly Hoang Ly – Photo: NVCC
After such self-purifying experiences, new space is opened up in the viewer. They may be able to reflect on leaving, staying, living and deceased. “Then through that, it seems, one person’s story will gradually transform into everyone’s story,” said curator Long Nguyen.
Ly Hoang Ly’s photo exhibition therefore has many “accessories” to help viewers see her work longer. The wooden plate that Ly Hoang Ly mentioned was placed on the ground, which is the bottom of an iron frame in the form of a boat frame. On the ceiling is a mirror so that the viewer lying on the cool wooden plank can reflect on himself. This somehow evokes the feeling of a mirror in cameras.
There are families who sit in the “boat” which is a recycled wooden crate to view the photo exhibition. Such a journey is reminiscent of the fact that there are always migrants somewhere. From rural to urban, from country to country. That is like Ly Hoang Ly’s own experience. She was born and raised in Hanoi, then moved to Ho Chi Minh City, then moved to the US to study, exhibit in many places… Life, seems to be a continuous migration, on such a huge scale.
Ly Hoang Ly at the Dreamer exhibition at Manzi – Photo: NVCC
On the wall are consecutive photos, printed in limited quantities with the theme Ash. Each work is a picture of beef bones that are simmered, ground, then fired and molded, and then left over. It is the image transformation of what remains after Ly Hoang Ly’s pho cooking demonstration. Cooking pho to satisfy nostalgia, cooking demonstrations to find out about their original culture. The remaining bones are also another form of nostalgia. Then the bone meal was also transformed again, so that nostalgia was photographed, printed, and hung on the wall.
In longing nostalgia, looking at the photographic works of Dreamerthe public will gradually find peace… “These photographic works are also limited in quantity”, said Ms. Vu Ngoc Tram.
Pictures in Dreamer also supported by many doorways. Those are lacquered metal doors with the motif of the word Tho. It also shows the visualization of the original culture that Ly Hoang Ly relies on through her travels, through cooking pho and simmering bones. The sample of the doorways taken from the villa at 14 Duong Thanh, Hanoi, is the old house of the Ly family. Built around 1922, the villa is a combination of a variety of materials and architectural styles, inspired by China, France, and Vietnam as well as cultural movement and adaptation. “Throughout the house are hundreds of decorative details; all are visual stylization of the same word longevity. Hundreds, because perhaps at any time and everywhere, everyone aspires for eternity, and then eventually becomes an ancient person,” said curator Long Nguyen.
Ly Hoang Ly shared: “Here! This is my country, this is what I can hold; this is my tradition, which is what I keep… Migrating or immigrating, we absorb new identities and cultures; at the same time carry with them the customs and capital of life, from one root to another. This is a journey that breaks a lot, breaks a lot. And along the way, even the most basic, biological elements in our bodies – like bones – will also separate and move, so that they are constantly forming and changing.”
Look at the mirror on the ceiling to see yourself and the exhibition – Photo: Manzi
Ly Hoang Ly’s story in her latest photography exhibition thus shows the flexibility in the materials she uses to express herself. It also shows reflections on life, on original culture, on fate, on the journey of life – the journey of death.
Long Nguyen recounted: “On April 4, 2021, Ly sent me the following message: “This day, last year, this time Lolo is trembling in Hoang Ly’s heart. Hold your child and answer each of his questions. Normally, Hoang Ly would have fainted, normally seeing blood is fainting. Hoang Ly can cry easily. Beloved, one becomes suddenly brave and wise, more than 1,000 times his frail body. Last year, what has been done, I don’t know. It seems like it was just yesterday, time has not passed. Just like a dream. Sleep tonight, how will you wake up in the morning? I hope those you love are well. Hoang Ly April 3, 2021”.
He also wrote: “I think Ly wrote for herself first, like a diary. And the act of sending letters to someone close to them is to heal wounds and loneliness – hers, Lolo’s, and the recipient’s. Because we were born alone, we die alone. So if we live, that means we live with people. From the end, to the end; I find solace, in the heart of another flesh, another body.”
With the latest exhibition Dreamer, Ly Hoang Ly completely told her self-healing journey. That healing does not come from avoiding to forget, but from facing, experiencing and then healing with the original culture. With art, she once again came back, moved.