Vietnamese-American artist wins Prince Claus Award

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Vietnamese-American visual artist Le Quang Dinh will be presented with the 2010 Prince Claus Award at the Dutch Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City next week.


The 43-year-old artist, whose works are informed by the Vietnam War and Cambodia's experience under the Khmer Rouge, will receive a cash award of US$35,635.


An announcement on Prince Claus Fund's website said, "Le is honored for his strong creative work exploring different constructions of reality, for providing inspiration and practical opportunities for young artists, and for advancing free thought and contemporary visual expression in a context of indifference and hostility."

It said the theme of the 2010 awards was "Frontiers of Reality." It is a "crucial theme for contemporary culture and development since perceptions of reality vary according to people's knowledge and the cultural, political and social environment in which they live.

"Especially in today's world of new information technologies, many new versions of reality are surfacing and people feel the need to make sense of these new perspectives."  

The award aims to honor those "who open up different perceptions and make significant contributions to the construction of new knowledge, better understanding, empowerment and greater equity essential factors for local and global development and stability," it said.

At the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, Le once exhibited a helicopter that symbolized all the American helicopters sent to Vietnam during the war.

Another artwork emerged after a visit to the Tuol SlengGenocide Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Le used the photographs of Khmer Rouge prisoners for his 1994-99 series Cambodia: Splendor and Darkness.

Le has co-founded a number of art organizations, including the Vietnam Foundation for the Arts and San Art, a non-profit art space for exhibiting work by both international and local artists.

San Art, which was founded in 2007, has already had an enormous impact on the vitality and accessibility of contemporary art in Ho Chi Minh City.

The Prince Claus Awards, founded in 1997, are presented annually to individuals, groups and organizations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean for outstanding achievements in the field of culture and development and the positive effect of their work on their environment and on the wider cultural or social field.

So far, the award has been presented to more than 150 individuals and organizations.

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