Exhibit highlights interface of farmers and animals in Vietnam

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"Where birds dance their last" - a photo from a video in Lena Bui's upcoming exhibition shows a woman tossing chicken feather into the air in the outskirts of Hanoi.   

A young artist is holding a solo exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City starting November 1 based on to the close interaction between Vietnamese breeders, butchers and their animals despite current global health concerns.

"Voracious Embrace: The human/animal interface" includes videos, photos, abstract paintings, sculptures and installations by Lena Bui which show the blurred physical boundaries between Vietnamese farmers and their animals.

"Having experienced life in different cultures and education systems in Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and the US, I became very curious of how people's cultural and socio-political background affect the way they perceive things," the 27-year-old Da Nang native was quoted in a press release as saying.

"I'm interested in the mechanism of influence, of cause and effect, how things connect and interact with each other, how subtle everyday rituals can reflect our beliefs and influence the way we behave."

After visiting an abattoir in the southern province of Dong Thap Province, she wrote: "Many butchers work without shoes or shirts. Pigskin and human skin are surprisingly similar. A butcher bending over the carcass of a pig looked uncannily similar to the dead pig he was hacking apart. His posture, from afar, looked almost as if he were standing in the pig or coming out from within it."

Her exhibition seeks to show the traditional practice of killing and consuming, and indicates how the socioeconomic context shapes people's attitudes and choices.

The art graduate from the US has held several exhibitions in Ho Chi Minh City and Japan.

She says this exhibit "depicts the strangely harmonic moments of the collision and merging of human and animal parts, evoking the paradoxical codependence and violence that mark the human-animal relationship and, in a broader sense, the all-consuming nature of life."

The exhibit will be open to the public between November 1 and 14 at the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum, 97A Pho Duc Chinh Street, District 1.

Bui's collection is the result of nine months of art-in-residency when she worked with experts from the Ho Chi Minh City Center for Tropical Diseases.

Her residency was arranged by San Art, Ho Chi Minh City's leading contemporary art venue, and the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, which receives support from the global health charity organization Wellcome Trust.

The exhibition is part of the Wellcome Trust project, "Art in Global Health."

The project has set up residencies for artists in six Wellcome Trust-funded research centers in Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam and the UK to give them insight into the personal, philosophical, cultural and political dimensions of health research.

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