Opening at Sydney’s Casula Powerhouse on 31 January and having its launch on 7 February is Viet Nam Voices – the first exhibition to give voice to all sides of the Vietnam War, the crisis of a generation.
Developed in 1997 by Casula Powerhouse, the exhibition has toured every Australian capital city between 2000 and 2004. The exhibition’s final showing from 31 January – 15 March 2009 will be the first time it has been installed at Casula Powerhouse.
Using photographs and art created by Australian and Vietnamese war veterans, anti war protesters, the Viet Cong and soldiers from the army of North Vietnam, Viet Nam Voices is a deeply moving and delicate journey through personal and unofficial histories of the Vietnam War.
Each of the hundreds of objects on exhibition many shown for the first time in this exhibition have been provided by someone who has been touched by the war. The exhibition includes personal photographs from the private albums of Viet Nam veterans and their families, as well as drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures, costumes, home movies and propaganda posters from Australian and Vietnamese private and public art collections.
Viet Nam Voices provides a rare opportunity for all sides of the Vietnam War to come together to share their experiences with dignity and respect. The exhibition reflects on the cost to those involved in warfare, and the impact these experiences have had on Australian communities.
Generations of Australians have been affected as a result of Australia’s engagement in Viet Nam. Passions raged in the 1960s and 70s about Australia’s involvement in the conflict and in 1970 200 000 people marched in protest in the streets of Australia’s major cities. By the end of the war in 1972, 60 000 Australians had been involved in the conflict. 50 servicemen were killed, and over 3000 were injured.
The influx of Vietnamese refugees into Australia after the war was significant, with some 90 000 people settling here by the mid 1980’s. Today the AustralianVietnamese community is estimated to have grown to roughly 200 000. Viet Nam Voices has provided an opportunity for Australians, regardless of their background, to express their experience of war.
“What strikes me most from the exhibition is the experiences of the people who lived through the war, their feelings, the emotions that have been captured in the documentation. In this war, nobody won.
“Exhibitions like Viet Nam Voices teaches us that in the end nothing was achieved and yet the costs were very great,” said Ann Pham, a member of the Viet Nam Voices Curatorium.
Viet Nam Voices – Australians and the Viet Nam War is one of Casula Powerhouse’s most successful touring projects. Developed in 1997, the exhibition has toured every Australian capital city between 2000 and 2004. The exhibition’s final showing from 31 January – 15 March 2009 will be the first time it has been installed at Casula Powerhouse. Viet Nam Voices provides a foundation for Nam Bang! an exhibition showcasing artworks of the second generation to be affected by the Vietnam War which opens at Casula Powerhouse on 4 April 2009.
“Viet Nam Voices is important to Casula Powerhouse, not only because it is one of our highly acclaimed national touring projects, but because it cuts to the core of our aim, to engage with dialogues of international import that are locally relevant.
“This exhibition has a cathartic and restorative purpose, to share the pain and sorrow that this war caused to individuals, and to create new and healing dialogues,” said Nicholas Tsoutas, the Artistic Director of Casula Powerhouse.
Casula Powerhouse is a multidisciplinary arts centre, located on Tharawal country on the banks of the Georges River within the City of Liverpool, NSW. With over 150 languages spoken in the local area, Casula Powerhouse represents culturally diverse stories that allow its audiences to reflect on the world. As both a producer and presenter of work, Casula Powerhouse offers professionalism and expertise in the development of both contemporary art and community based practice in a way that is responsive to its local and global communities.