Chips, dints and magic: twenty years of change in Vietnam's art world

I was visited in Ho Chi Minh City recently by an Australian friend in arts management, who has worked in Vietnam several times. Over breakfast one day, she suddenly asked: “So when is it all going to change?” I was dumbstruck. She obviously felt that change was desirable in the local art scene, and that it was taking too long. What baffled me, however, was not her viewpoint, but rather the underlying inference that I, from my position inside Vietnam for nineteen years, might be clutching the answer. Ah yes, if only I possessed that magic wand. For this region, nineteen years was once upon a long, long time ago. It was the age before supermarkets, taxi companies and ATMs. In the two decades since then, the region has advanced in internationalisation and sophistication in big strides, as has its art scene. My friend has observed this herself over the years, yet she still felt something was amiss.

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