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Published: 31 July 2021

By Andy Ross

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Fragments of poetry

In this charming and beautiful collaborative piece between Vietnamese artist, Hoa Dung, and her sister, the memory of a childhood of poems is half-remembered.

When the sisters were growing up in Vietnam their parents would recite folk poems to help them to fall asleep. Vietnamese poetry (if you want to learn more about the art follow this link) is an integral and important part of the culture across the country, and the rising and falling intonations of the language make it very melodic. To indicate these intonations and pitches, which convey information just as much as the words themselves do, accent marks are used. If you would like to hear what Vietnamese sounds like follow this link and scroll down a little to the video and live feeds. 

Hoa and her sister collected the poems, writing them down, and then erased the letters so that only the accents remained. These accents were then embroidered onto pillowcases, embroidery being a traditional craft and one that the family has passed down through generations. The two pillow-filled covers form the installation; a gentle and evocative reminder of what Hoa calls "distant music", recollecting her life in Vietnam in a thoughtful and contemplative marriage of art and craft that conveys subtle messages of family, relationships, memory and culture.

You can see the artwork on the artist's website here.