【亞太博物館連線專欄】政策與博物館:針對越南博物館體系與其他替代選項之理解—私人博物館崛起篇

Politics and Museums: Knowledge on Museum System and Other Alternatives in Vietnam -The Rise of Private Museums-

政策與博物館:針對越南博物館體系與其他替代選項之理解 —私人博物館崛起篇

 

作者:Bùi Kim Đĩnh(德國哥廷根大學社會文化人類學與民族誌學系博士候選人)

編按:本文原為英文,為方便各位讀者閱讀,特由亞太博物館連線計畫團隊翻譯為中文。今年我們特別邀請作者Bùi Kim Đĩnh女士造訪臺灣,將於11月3日於國立臺灣歷史博物館(https://goo.gl/aucb4n)、11月4日於國立臺灣藝術大學藝術管理與文化政策研究所(https://goo.gl/TrZQL6)舉行座談,分享越南的博物館發展軌跡、介紹多處富含文化生命力的藝文空間。歡迎對越南或東南亞博物館感興趣的朋友共襄盛舉。


四、變革與批判

自1997年以來,伴隨著越南民族學博物館的成功,博物館已成為建構「融入國家認同後的新文明」之核心要件(黎可漂,1998)。2001年,文化資產法成為關於博物館的第一條相關法條,其中所列之博物館定義、分類、層級、使命與權利等,皆與國際標準無太大不同,設立博物館的條件也從僅限於國家,放寬至容許私人單位(阮文安,2001)。2005年,政府簽訂了2020年前博物館發展大計,主要目的為服務大眾求知、學習、教授,與傳遞關於歷史、文化、科學、藝文娛樂等相關知識的需求,同時對社經發展有所貢獻(範家謙,2005)。為此,經過半個世紀之後,越南的博物館終於第一次被視為公眾服務,而非僅是宣傳工具。

然而,上述發展的成功多半僅反映在量的層面。雖然自1997年來,新的視角、主題與方法逐步建立,多數的越南博物館離國際標準仍有一段落差。就公眾服務層面來說,多數博物館缺乏商店、餐廳與出版品,即便有,在內容方面亦有所欠缺。逾半數的博物館僅有傳單而未有出版品,教育活動要不有所不足,要不讓人敬謝不敏,一般而言僅提供枯燥乏味的博物館導覽,同時多數的博物館研究工作仍待時間補足。

在眾多理由中,上述問題的主因可歸咎於內部結構的欠缺。三分之二的越南博物館未有教育活動或行銷的預算,因此百分之60的博物館既沒有博物館概念或營運模式,也缺乏明確的使命。除此之外,百分之40的博物館沒有保存或擴充館藏的預算,在聯合活動中,絕大多數博物館無法負擔員工的教育訓練費用。另外,因現代博物館學教育的缺乏,近6成的國立博物館並未有宣傳、行銷或教育方法等博物館學領域的專家。綜觀越南全國,僅有河內與胡志明市的文化大學文化資產系有教授博物館學與文物保存。然而,上述學校的博物館是受河內文化幹部學校自1959年以來的意識形態所主導,充斥著馬克思、列寧主義與胡志明思想的教條,以及共產黨的革命原則。藝術與社科研究亦面臨同樣情況。

更有甚者,越南在規劃博物館時並不急著集思廣益。在一個各自獨立的行政結構下,建構博物館的工作落在建設部或相關部門之下,與本身受文化體育旅遊部或相關部門法令管轄的博物館人員毫無聯繫。以新的河內博物館為例,建築本體已由德國gmp建築師事務所設計並於2010年建造完成1,卻因缺乏展覽品而遲遲無法運作2

缺乏專業不僅僅是博物館的問題,也是越南政府的困境,文化體育旅遊部無法完整列出國內博物館的數量與分類。雖然有2020年前博物館發展大計在先,該計畫卻未參考任何博物館相關研究,安沛博物館便是發展計畫嚴重設計不當的案例,博物館本身乃於2009年根據博物館發展大計所設,然而在這之後卻因缺乏補助款,造成博物館內部空無一物且遲遲未完工。既有的館藏必須儲藏在風吹日曬的環境中,由此可見博物館發展大計與地方現實之間所存在的巨大落差。

伴隨著國立博物館如雨後春筍般紛紛出現,私人博物館的數量亦有所增加。自2006年始,計有22所私人博物館正式設立,占越南博物館總數約百分之15左右。上述博物館乃由私人收藏而生,並登記為私人博物館或公司行號。根據文化資產法,私人博物館理論上必須受省立黨委員會指揮之省文化局管轄,然而若博物館以公司行號形式進行登記,則許可單位轉為省立黨委員會底下之計畫與投資部,與黨之文化政策毫無關聯。根據此說法,私人博物館—特別是登記為公司行號的私人博物館—相較之下,在決策上享有較大的自由度。

一如國立博物館,私人博物館的主題以歷史、人類學、名人、藝術文物、戰爭與文化史為主,近半數之館藏以越南古董或繪畫等當代藝術為主。但在人事不受干涉下,私人博物館往往較具彈性且積極。舉例來說,北越芒族文化博物館便與當地少數族裔攜手合作,透過舉辦芒族文化中傳統草藥之展覽與工作坊,共同創造出文化資產。博物館同時也透過舉辦愛滋病防治工作坊,以及教育芒族青少年性別知識等活動,對公眾教育做出貢獻。同樣的,越南民族學博物館則希望與所在地萊道村之宮廟等文化地標有所聯繫。就上述情況來說,私人博物館與社會之互動較國立博物館來得出色。

此外,私人博物館不受黨的嚴謹政治準則所侷限,在舉辦主題特展上更具開放性。自2011年以來,除了關於少數族裔的人類學館藏外,芒族文化博物館另舉辦了現場演出、裝置藝術、講座與特展等諸多當代藝文活動,並藉此向越南當地之丹麥大使館文化發展與交流基金或瑞典國際發展合作署等國際組織尋求資助。私人博物館同時也更能活用新媒體進行廣宣活動,在網站與社群網站上提供訪客排版新潮、更新頻繁的多語言資訊內容,與民眾在網路世界裡的互動也遠較國立博物館更加主動積極。

即便如此,私人與國立博物館間仍存有同一個問題重重的相似之處:缺乏專業性。雖然某些私人博物館宣稱擁有溝通、教育與行銷等領域的專業人才,但在2013年「博物館來去越南」企劃針對越南博物館系統所進行的問卷中,回覆裡頭針對博物館學專有詞彙的理解仍是錯誤頻頻,同時這些博物館亦不具有母語之外的第二種語言。

私人博物館乃由個人興趣及對分享個人收藏的渴望所生,並不具備對外開放的責任,許多也僅有展示收藏品的陳列間,訪客服務幾乎可說是不存在。類似的博物館大門不常敞開,裡頭也鮮少有圖書館、資料庫或實驗室。研究、保存與出版並非其興趣所在,類似博物館絕大多數時候也僅能吸引擁有同樣嗜好的小群友人或舊識。以藝術家潘氏玉美的私人美術館為例,其所收藏的內戰期間社會主義文宣畫於2013年僅能吸引約一千名訪客,而就受俘革命軍博物館的情況來說,考慮其營運模式乃參照既有的國立博物館,至今仍不為大眾所知。

除此之外,越南的私人博物館合法化工作並未延伸至外資,讓外籍人士在合法登記其所經營的博物館上有一定難度。一名在越南成立瓦達博物館的日籍人士便耗費多年時間,方於2012年取得合法執照,並在不久後因年邁而過世3。頭頓省的世界軍武博物館則是另一慘劇,該博物館的歐洲古老武器收藏者為一名英國人,因外籍身分而無法將博物館註冊在其名下,被迫以越南妻子的名義進行註冊,開幕不久後卻因家庭紛爭而幾乎被迫將整個收藏拱手讓給妻子,博物館也因此無法繼續運作4

財務困境則是另一個博物館營運上常見的問題,雖然中央有編列建造大量國立博物館的預算,卻在人事、展覽規劃與研究上顯得捉襟見肘。上述情況在私人博物館也不能倖免,在缺乏公眾財務資源下,私人博物館主要得靠擁有者金援方得以運作。就芒族文化博物館的情況來說,擁有者本身是名曾經在和平市經營咖啡館的藝術家,為了籌備建館基金而出售自己所有的畫作。自2010年始,文化體育旅遊部所頒布的十八號公告允許私人博物館得以經營諸如餐廳或咖啡館等額外服務,讓芒族文化博物館能藉由建立博物館餐廳支撐博物館運作。

與上述私人博物館不同,註冊為公司行號、或做為公司行號一部分的私人博物館皆欣欣向榮,博物館本身靠著館藏設立,館藏又與擁有者經營的生意息息相關,博物館得以將訪客視為公司廣宣的一部分。以越南傳統醫學博物館為例,博物館創辦人本身也是某間醫藥公司的經營者,透過與旅遊業者合作成功協助推廣博物館。就其他案例來說,博物館則是某種生態觀光公司或度假村的一部分,博物館的目標群眾也是商業行為的消費者,本身館藏以民俗文物為主,博物館裡頭也較常出現帶有異國風情的人物或娛樂活動。

在前述的博物館裡頭,訪客會受到妥善照料,並以消費者的身分被接待。博物館會砸重金在娛樂、宣傳與行銷領域人才上頭,並與旅遊公司、旅行社和雜誌社維持良好合作關係。縱使門票所費不貲,依舊能吸引大量訪客,也符合家庭、工人、官員或旅人等不同團體的需求,但當地社群則非其客群,研究與知識分享亦非重點。政府規範視此類博物館為商業活動,不受文化政策或公告所限制。博物館則充分利用上述條件,在極大化訪客的同時,免於對文化資產法、黨的政治指導或官僚體系的限制負起任何責任。

五、其他開放給大眾的替代方案

同一時間,由個人所發起的私人文化機構也開始以不同的法律形式出現。舉例來說,Domdom便為一登記為社政組織的實驗音樂團體5,以非政府組織形式於美國成立的Sàn Art則在西貢站穩腳步。為了能夠動員非營利活動並獲得政府資助,Sàn Art的創辦人之一黎光頂與當地政府協商,將其組織的部分活動合法化為政府立案的非營利事業。Galerie Quynh畫廊本身登記為商店,其下的非營利展演空間Sao La為店家本身活動的一部分,今天已發展成一獨立藝術家團體。藝術團體Nhà Sàn Collective則與上述團體不同,乾脆以不具任何法律身分的方式運作,DocLab則為歌德學院之附屬單位。

另一個新加入戰局的則是另類咖啡館。2012年,兩名越南人成立了Manzi咖啡,在此頻繁舉辦藝文活動。Manzi咖啡視審查為無物,大力推廣當代藝術同時經營新的群眾,鼓勵批判思考,藉由藝術展覽、座談會、工作坊、新書發表、電影放映、音樂與舞蹈等鼓勵討論風氣,並與地方性藝術家、知識分子、社運分子,以及國際文化機構攜手合作,再透過藝品店與咖啡廳/酒吧做為經濟來源。Manzi咖啡並未登記為文化機構,除了臉書之外沒有官方網站,但仍吸引大量群眾參與其舉辦的活動,並成為河內當地眾所皆知的藝文樞紐。

2013年6月,一群創新的藝術家於河內創辦了名為Zone 9的藝術娛樂空間。他們為1960年代受蘇維埃影響的粗野主義製藥工廠建築帶來時尚美學,獨立咖啡館、復古商店以及藝術家工作室能在此共存共榮,成為越南當代創意產業的第一道曙光。但這道光芒僅維持了六個月。2013年12月,Zone 9因安全問題而被迫關閉,在此之後空間始終大門深鎖,裡頭空無一人。

上述的組織與團體在公眾教育上扮演了至關重要的角色,而這正是博物館的重要任務之一。諷刺的是,支持以上活動的並非國家,而是私人贊助與國際組織,國家僅投來審查的眼神。展示不符合「風序良俗」或「敏感」的批判性藝術品皆受到嚴格禁止。舉例來說,藝術家Lại Thị Diệu Hà於2010年所舉辦的「飛離」裸體演出讓Nhà Sàn藝廊被迫停業,直到其於2013年將名字改為Nhà Sàn Collective方得以重新開張。6與政治相關的「敏感」議題亦是禁忌,例如Trần Trọng Linh在2012年於河內L’espace所展出的裝置藝術「荒誕共和國」讓藝術家本人即便擁有越南身分,仍遭遣送回法國。7

2015年,寄給藝術家黎光頂的展覽型錄「亞洲無政府連線」遭到胡志明市郵政總局以「違法內容」沒收。即便今日壓迫已無九零年代前那樣嚴峻,越南保安部門仍樂於在世界各地追蹤越南藝術家。2015年,一名藝術家於柏林的亞太週活動上發表了關於其藝術作品的相關言論,在她回到越南當下便有數名文化警察要求約談。為落實言論審查,不同的內部政治維安部門(如PA83或PA25)會擔任共產黨的執行單位,與文化管理機構,如國家郵政或文化體育旅遊部,一同維護「安寧繁華」(文化治安),甚至透過直接禁止藝術品、展覽審查或追捕通緝中的藝術家等方式進行干預。

除審查外,缺乏成立非政府機構的合法框架等人民集會權,則是另一個阻礙越南文化發展的重大議題。就現階段來說,除非登記為共產黨控制的祖國陣線的社政組織,非政府組織要登記為獨立民間社團是毫無可能。8所有的文化活動或展覽則須取得文化體育旅遊部、或其地方代表省立人民委員會文化體育旅遊處所發行的執照方可進行。9相較於多數越南博物館裡頭的低專業水平,上述文化替代方案背後人士可分為三大族群:1) 地方性越南文化創作者,本身先接受本地教育,之後搭配國際交流計畫或出國留學發展自身能力,最後再回到越南;2) 海外越南人—「越僑」,在1975年後以政治難民的身分移民至美國或西歐,最後回到越南;3) 來自世界各地,一同參與越南社會的國際文化創作者。上面絕大多數皆能勝任其工作內容,也具有良好的國際人脈。

然而,在個人財力有限,國際支援又是未定之天的情況下,多數人的組織皆難以長期活動。比起那些不斷擴張,出於知名建築師之手,如gmp10設計的河內博物館或薩爾瓦多培瑞茲阿洛尤設計的廣寧博物館等巨大而空洞的國立博物館,獨立或替代空間則面臨了缺乏實體空間的嚴重議題。西貢的Sàn Art失去租屋處之後被迫擠進位於咖啡館裡頭的書區,並被迫減少活動,11河內的Nhà Sàn Collective則再一次請人提供新的空間。

六、越南博物館的未來

雖然自1998年以來,國家與私人部門皆在越南的文化創作上取得正面進展,但文化管理上缺乏專業教育與合法框架仍阻礙了博物館的發展。除此之外,對藝術與文化的審查將民間作為推往政府的反方向,推廣國家主義並「對抗所有與黨的文化方針相違背的想法」(黎可漂,1998)也依舊是文化政策的核心。

然而,自2014年6月以來,政府的立場從限制「商業化的藝術與文化」政策(共產黨,1991),轉為發展「文化產業」的新政策(共產黨,2014),藉此將藝術與文化進行商業化。為了推動此一概念,2014年10月,河內的歌德學院舉辦了「創作力與城市」座談會,焦點講者分別來自Nhà sàn Collective與文化體育旅遊部。2014年12月,就在元旦節(越南新年)之前,河內藝術市集首次於越南的消費旺季正式開幕,前後為期一個月。12

現階段,鋪天蓋地的資本主義成為文化發展的另一個挑戰。彷彿是嗅到藝術與文化裡頭藏有潛在利益,貪婪的髒手開始以公眾服務為名伸進文化界。近日在越南房地產開發集團Vingroup其中一座購物中心裡,占地四千平方公尺、名為Vincom當代藝術(VCCA)13的巨型當代藝文中心正式開幕,外觀採用巴洛克與洛可可美學,裡頭則有著石膏製成的羅馬或希臘雕像,藝術與文化竟淪為採買與自拍的一部分。

矛盾的是,在重新進行都市設計時,同一個企業才在不同政治單位支持下,殘忍地抹去了各種文化與歷史古蹟,例如巴松港口乃於1790年由阮福暎皇帝所建,並在一個世紀後成為東南亞的現代化造船廠,14以及位於河內法國區某條小巷裡,由殖民時期房屋改建而成的非主流電影院Cinematheque。在上述情形裡,文化資產既不是國家的問題,也不是個人的。面對眼前包含文化政策、基礎建設狀態、法律議題與社會變革等種種爭議,越南的博物館要做為「非營利之永久性機構,為服務社會及其發展,向公眾開放,為研究、教育及娛樂目的,而取得、保存、溝通、展示人類及其環境之物質證據」,15恐怕還是遙不可及的空中樓閣。


Politics and Museums:

Knowledge on Museum System and Other Alternatives in Vietnam

-The Rise of Private Museums-

4. Changes and Criticisms

Since 1997, after the success of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, museums have become a core factor in building a ‘new a culture with imbued national identity’ (Lê Khả Phiêu, 1998). In 2001, laws and legislation of museums were issued for the first time in the Law on Cultural Heritage. Listed are definitions, classifications, ranks, missions and rights of museums not too different from international standards. Conditions to establish a museum are promulgated for not only the state but also private ownership (Nguyễn Văn An, 2001). In 2005, a Master Plan for Developing the Museum System until 2020 was signed. The main purpose of that plan is to serve the general public needs of learning, studying, teaching, and transmitting knowledge of history, culture, sciences, and cultural enjoyment, while also contributing to the socio-economical development (Phạm Gia Khiêm, 2005). Thus, after half a century, Vietnamese museums, for the first time, are not simply considered propagandas but public services.

However, the success of this development is mostly in term of quantity. Although new perspectives, themes, and methods have been increasingly established since 1997, most of the museums in Vietnam are still far from the international museum standards. Regarding the public service, a large number of museums did not have any museum shops, cafeterias, and publications. In cases where they exist, they were usually insufficient in content. More than half of the museums have only flyers and no publication. Educational programmes appear lacking or uninviting. Usually only monotonous guided tours in museums could be offered. The majority of museum researches remained a future resource.

Reasons for this are, among other things, inadequate internal structures. Two thirds of the museums in Vietnam had no budget for educational programmes and marketing. As a result, sixty percent of the museums neither had a model or museum concept or a clear statement for their missions. Also, forty percent of the museums had no budget to preserve and expand their collection. In a collaborative programme, most museums could not afford the training cost for their employees.

Additionally, almost sixty percent of the state museums had no experts in museology such as communication, marketing, and pedagogy. This fact is caused by the lack of education in modern museology. In the whole country, there are only the Department of Cultural Heritage in the University of Culture in Hà Nội and in Hồ Chí Minh City that teach museology and heritage preservation. However, rooted in the ideologies of the Schools of Cultural Cadres in Hanoi since 1959, the Department of Museology in those universities are dominated by the doctrines of Marxist-Leninism and Hồ Chí Minh ideologies as well as the revolutionary guidance of the party. The studies of art and social sciences are also in the same situation.

Moreover, conceptualisation of a museum as a solidary process is not yet a pressing concern. In a separated administrative structure, building museums falls under the responsibilities of the Ministry or Authorities of Construction, which are usually not connected at all with museum workers, who are legitimated by Ministry or Authorities of Culture, Sport, and Tourism. An example is the new Hà Nội Museum built and designed by the architecture firm gmb Gerkan/partner GmbH in 2010 and had not yet functioned because of missing exhibitions.

The absence of professionalism is not only a problem for museums, but also the government in Vietnam. A statistics of the number of museums in the country and their classifications could not be comprehensively listed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Although there was a master plan for museum development until the year 2020, this plan was not based on any relevant museum research. The Yên Bái Museum is an example of a totally unsuitable development plan. The museum was built in 2009 as part of the master plan for museum development. Since then, however, it has been empty and left unfinished. Existing museum collections must be stored in rustic condition. The reason for this is the lack of subvention. Hence, the master plan for museum development is not at all adapted with the local realities of museums.

Along with the quantitative boom of state museums, the number of private museums has also increased. Since 2006, there are twenty-two private museums founded, which covered almost fifteen percent of Vietnamese museums. Those museums originated from private collections and registered either as private museums or as business companies. As private museums, according to the Law on Cultural Heritage, they must be theoretically under the guidance of provincial cultural bureaus directed by provincial party committees. However, as private companies, they were authorized by Departments for Planning and Investment of provincial committees that was not at all related to cultural policies of the Party. In this sense, private museums, especially private museums registered as companies, have relatively more freedom in decision making.

Similar to state museums, the themes of private museums focus on history, anthropology, celebrities, art-antique, war, and cultural history. Almost half of them are based on collections of Vietnamese antique or modern art – mainly paintings. However, with organic staffs, private museums are more flexible and active. For example, participating in making heritage, together with the regional ethnic minorities, the Muong’s Culture Museum has organized exhibitions and workshops about traditional natural medicines from Muong’s culture. They also contribute to public education by organizing workshops about HIV prevention and educating youth about sexuality in the Muong communities. Similarly, Nguyễn Văn Huyên Museum aims to connect itself to the other cultural addresses such as temples or churches of Lai Xá village, where the museum is located. In this case, social engagement of private museums is better than state-owned ones.

Furthermore, not framed in the strict political guidance of the Party, private museums can be more open in thematizing exhibitions. Since 2011, in addition to anthropological collections about ethnic minorities, the Muong’s Culture Museum has also organized contemporary art activities such as performances, installations, talks, and exhibitions. For that, they were able to ask for fund from international organizations such as Culture Development and Exchange Fund of the Embassy of Denmark (CDEF) and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) in Vietnam.

Moreover, private museums are more dynamic in applying new media in marketing. Information package with modern layout in multiple languages is updated frequently on websites and social networks. Their cyber interaction with public is much prompter compared to state museums.

Nonetheless, private museums still share a problematic similarity with state museums: the lack of professionalism. Although some private museums declared having experts in communication, education and marketing in museums when responding to questionnaires in the survey on museum system in Vietnam 2013 by MUGOVIE, museological terms were frequently wrongly understood. In those museums, a second language never appears.

Initiated from personal hobbies and the needs of sharing self-contained collections, private museums are not obliged to open to the public. Many of them have almost no visitor services but only exhibition rooms to display their collections. Entrances are not open frequently. There is rarely a library, archive, or laboratory in such museums. Research, preservation, as well as publication are not on their interests. For most cases, these museums manage to attract only limited groups of friends or acquaintances with similar hobbies. For instance, in the case of The Private Fine Art Museum of artist Phan Thị Ngọc Mỹ, their painting collection of socialistic propaganda art during the civil war could attract only about one thousand visitor in 2013. Another case is the Museum for Revolutionary Soldiers imprisoned by the Enemies that remain unknown to the public since their operating models are based on the existence of state museums.

Furthermore, legalization for private museums in Vietnam has not included foreign ownership. It is difficult for foreigners to register their museums legally. It took years for a Japanese to operate his Wada Museum in Vietnam until he got a permit in 2012 and died soon after that because of his old age. In the case of the Worldwide Arms Museum in Vũng Tàu province, it was even more disastrous. The owner of the European historical weapon collection was an English man. As a foreigner, he could not register the museum under his name, subsequently had to do it in the name of his Vietnamese wife. Because of family conflict, soon after the opening, the English man was on the verge of loosing his collection to his wife and his museum could not be operated.

Financial shortcomings are another common concern in running museums. Whilst there has been central budget to build a mass of state museums, there is limited budget for human resources as well as building exhibition and research. This is also not an exception for private museums. Without any public finance resource, private museums are sponsored predominantly by the owners. For the Muong’s Culture Museum, the owner, an artist, used to run a café in Hoà Bình city and sell his paintings in order to raise fund for his museum. Since 2010, the Circular Nr. 18 of the Ministry for Culture, Sport and Tourism, has allowed private museums to operate external services such as restaurant or café. Hence, the Muong’s Culture Museum could establish a museum restaurant to maintain their activities.

Unlike such private museums, private museums registered as commercial companies or as parts of commercial companies are all active. Founded on collections, which are related to the owners’ business, the museums consider visits as parts of their companies’ advertisement. In case of The Museum of Vietnamese Traditional Medicine, the founder is the owner of a pharmacy company and has done a good job in marketing the museum by cooperating with travel agents. In other cases, these museums are parts of eco-tourism companies or a resorts. Target groups of those museums are customers of their business. They usually house ethnographic collections. Characters of self-exoticism and entertainment appear more in this kind of museums.

In those museums, visitors are well cared and served as customers. They invest seriously into professional staff in fields of entertainment, communication, and marketing. They are well-connected with travel companies, agents, and magazines. Even though entrance fees are high, they attract many visitors. They cater for different groups like families, workers, officers, and travellers. However, local communities are not their target and research and sharing knowledge are not their priorities.

Regulated under commercial companionships, this kind of museums is not bound to any circulation of cultural policies. Taking it as an advantage, these museums can optimize their capacity without any obligation regarding the Law on Cultural Heritage, political guidance of the Party, as well as the limitation of bureaucracy.

5. Other Alternatives Open to the Public

Meanwhile, private cultural institutions initiated by individuals in different legal forms.  Domdom, for example, is an experimental music group registered as a socio-political organization. Sàn Art was founded in the USA as an NGO and established in Saigon. In order to mobilize and receive funding for the non-profit activities of Sàn Art, one of its founders Dinh Q. Le has negotiated with the local government to legalize a part of his organization’s activities as a registered not-for-profit business. Galerie Quynh was also registered as a shop and its collective Sao La makes up just a portion of the shop’s activities and now becomes an independent artist collective. Unlike these aforementioned groups, Nhà Sàn Collective simply runs without any legal status and DocLab goes under the umbrella of Goethe Institute.

Contributing to that scene is also a kind of café. Founded by two Vietnamese in 2012, Manzi café frequently organizes art and cultural events. Disregarding censorship, Manzi promotes contemporary arts, builds new audiences, inspires critical thinking, and nurtures a culture of debate through art exhibitions, talks, workshops, book introductions, movie screenings, music, and dance performances. Through collaborations, they work together with local artists, intellectuals, social activists, as well international cultural institutions. The space finances itself through an art shop and café/bar. Not registered as a cultural institution, no official website but only facebook, Manzi has attracted a large audience to its events. It has become a well-known hub for culture and art in Hanoi.

In June 2013, a group of innovative artists founded an artistic entertainment quarter called Zone 9 in Hanoi. They have turned 1960s-brutalist Soviet-inspired pharmaceuticals factory into a chic and eclectic mix of independent cafés, vintage shops, and artists’ studios. It was a first sign of a positive modern creative industry in Vietnam. But it existed for only six months. In December 2013, Zone 9 was forced to close due to reasons of security. Since then, the space remains locked and abandoned.

The organizations and collectives above have played a critical role in public education, which is in fact a museums’ task. Ironically, supporting those activities is not the state but private sponsors and international organizations. The only concern that the state has for those happenings is censorship.

Exhibiting critical arts, which do not fit to ‘thuần phong mĩ tục’ (the pure custom and beautiful tradition) or ‘nhạy cảm’ (sensitive), are strictly prohibited. For examples, the nude performance “Fly off” by Lại Thị Diệu Hà in 2010 has led Nhà Sàn Studio to be forcefully closed until its name was changed into Nhà Sàn Collective in 2013. ‘Sensitive’ issues related to political subjects are forbidden. For instance, the installation ‘the Absurd Republic’ of Trần Trọng Linh in 2012 in L’espace in Hanoi has caused the artist’s deportation at Nội Bài airport back to France although he is Vietnamese. Exhibition catalogues like ‘Asian Anarchy Alliance’ sent to artist Dinh Q.Le were confiscated by the central post of Ho Chi Minh City under the label of ‘violating content’ in June 2015. Although the suppression is not as strict as in pre-1990s, tracking Vietnamese artists around the world is still an interest of Vietnamese security forces. After giving a talk about an art project during the Asia-Pacific Week in Berlin in 2015, several appointments with cultural policemen were already lined up for the artist in Vietnam upon the return.

To enforce such censorship, various departments of inner political security (such as PA83 or PA25) acting as the Party’s executive forces cooperate with cultural management institutions such as the National Post or the Ministry of Culture, Sport, and Tourism to regulate ‘an ninh văn hoá’ (cultural security) or to intervene directly by prohibiting artworks, censoring exhibitions, and even tracking wanted artists.

Beside censorship, the lack of a right to assembly, including a legal framework to establish non-governmental organizations, is another critical issue hindering the culture development in Vietnam. At the current state, it is impossible for non-governmental organizations to register as independent civil society organizations in Vietnam except as socio-political organizations under the umbrella of the Fatherland Front, a Party-governed body. All cultural activities and exhibitions are required to obtain license from the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism or its local level representatives, the Authority of Culture, Sport, and Tourism of the provincial People Committee.

In contradiction of inferior professionalism in most of Vietnamese museums, behind such cultural alternatives are individuals comprised of primarily three groups: local Vietnamese culture-makers, who developed their skills through local education and international exchange programmes or studied abroad and then returned to Vietnam; Vietnamese diasporas– ‘Việt kiều’, who emigrated to the USA and Western Europe as political refugees after 1975, and then returned to Vietnam; and international culture-makers from various national backgrounds that participate in Vietnamese society. Most of them are high qualified in their profession and well connected internationally.

However, limited by personal financial capitals and uncertain international support, activities of their organizations are not sustainable. Contrary to the inflation of state museums’ infrastructure as empty gigantic buildings with renowned designers like Hanoi Museum by Gerkan, Marg and Partner and Quang Ninh Museum by Salvador Perez Aroyo, lacking physical spaces is a serious concern for independent and alternative spaces. Loosing the rented house, Sàn Art in Sài Gòn has shrunk to a humble library in a café and limited its activities. In Hà Nội, Nhà Sàn Collective is again searching for a new donating space.

6. Future of Museums in Vietnam

Although movements in making culture in Vietnam have developed positively since 1998 in both state and private sectors, the lack of professional education and legal framework in culture management is impeding the museum development. Besides, censoring art and culture has pushed civil initiatives to the opposite direction with the government. Promoting nationalism and “fighting against all tendencies, which are contrary with cultural guidelines of the Party” is still the central issue of the cultural policy (Lê Khả Phiêu, 1998).

Nevertheless, since June 2014, the government has made a shift from the limiting ‘commercialized art and culture’ policy (the Party, 1991) to commercialization of art and culture through new policy in developing a ‘cultural industry’ (the Party, 2014). To provide some impetus for this new concept, in October 2014, the Goethe Institut in Hanoi hosted the seminar “Creativity and the City” with key speakers from Nhà sàn Collective and Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism. In December 2014, a Hanoi Art Market was opened officially for a month for the first time in Vietnam during high consuming season, just before Tết (Vietnamese New Year).

Temporarily, rampant capitalism is another challenge to cultural development. Sniffing potential benefit of art and culture, greedy hands have just reached to the culture under the name of public service. Recently, Vincom Contemporary Art (VCCA) has been opened as a gigantic contemporary art center with 4.000-square-meter within one of Vingroup shopping malls with aesthetics of Baroque and Rococo facades amongst Rome or Greece sculptures made from plaster. Arts and culture have become part of shopping and taking selfie.

Paradoxically, to redesign the city, this corporation wiped off cultural and historical relics like Ba Son harbour, which was built in 1790 by Emperor Nguyễn Ánh and became a modern shipyard in Southeast Asia in a century later; and Cinematheque, an active cinema for sub-mainstream films in Hanoi founded in a colonial house in a small alley in French quarter. Backing those brutal actions is different political bodies. Cultural heritages, in these cases, are neither the state nor private concern.

Given this controversial situation among cultural policies, infrastructure conditions, legal issues and social changes, a museum as “a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates, and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment” seems to be still a utopia in the far future in Vietnam.

 

注釋
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