Life of Overseas Vietnamese in Germany Explored in Exhibition

The lively images and videos created by these two artists offer a firsthand glimpse into the modern-day experiences of the Vietnamese diaspora, who reside thousands of miles away from their native land.

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An exhibition titled “The Return” showcasing the Vietnamese community in Germany will be held at the Manzi Exhibition Space in Hanoi from January 8th to January 28th.

The themes of “Separation and Reunion” have become integral to the works of the Le Brothers. Through art, they delve into individual histories, memories, and the enigmatic layers of the past.

 The Le Brothers, Thanh Le Ngoc and Hai Le Duc, are celebrated for their performances and video creations that eloquently depict the metaphor of resemblance. Photo: Goethe Institut 

During their two-month residency in Germany last year, the Le Brothers engaged in conversations and interactions with members of the Vietnamese expatriate community in cities such as Halle, Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, and Leipzig.

These individuals come from diverse backgrounds and historical periods: international students, guest workers hailing from the 70s and 80s, post-Doi Moi migrant workers from the 1990s, second-generation German-born Vietnamese, and students currently studying at German universities.

This multimedia installment is composed of hundreds of carefully selected photographic documents, along with a video featuring interviews with Vietnamese individuals residing in Germany, offering an immersive visual experience.

The images, printed in various sizes and hung on large nets within the gallery space, layer upon one another, analogous to indelible memories that resist the passage of time, ultimately creating a vibrant, collaged panorama of diaspora.

 The Return exhibition poster.

“The Return” is the Le Brothers’ latest artistic endeavor following their previous project “The Bridge” (2010), a series of site-specific performances taking place on historic bridges such as the Hien Luong Bridge dividing Vietnam into the North and South, the Panmunjom border between North and South Korea, and the Berlin Wall which severed Germany for nearly half a century.

Since then, “separation and reunion” has remained a recurring motif in the Le Brothers’ work, acting as a conduit to explore personal histories, memories, and the cryptic twists and turns of the past.

Born in 1975 in Quang Binh province, the twin artists, Thanh Le Ngoc and Hai Le Duc, graduated from the Hue College of Arts in 2000.

Renowned for their performances and video works that beautifully encapsulate the notion of resemblance, the Le Brothers have exhibited and presented their art at prestigious international events and venues including the B3 Film Biennale Frankfurt (2023), The Nord Galerie in Berlin (2018), and Vietnam Eye in START at Saatchi Gallery in London (2017), among others.