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Meet the Kid from Saigon: Long Cao Hoang




Long defines himself as a visual artist. He explores all kind of medium, as if his thirst for experimentation would never be satisfied! He gets his inspiration from his personal memories, but also in art history and in the interaction between human and environment. He offers a sharp point of view on our behaviors. Long also developed a brand called Con Streetwear, to be able to express himself on daily objects. He explores in it the connection between the childhood, Vietnamese traditions and a modern youth.

Critical perspective,
street & traditions...
Interview with Long.

10.07.2018

︎Version française 


Let’s start by the beginning. Where are you from?

I grew up in Hanoi, located in the North of Vietnam. I moved to Saigon 10 years ago, to find more professional opportunities. It actually sums up pretty well the difference there is between the 2 cities: Hanoi is more chill, and Saigon busier.

I studied graphic design…and quit before graduated. Teachers’ skills are to be questioned over here! They are the antithesis of modernity. Graphic design has existed in Vietnam for 5 or 6 years only and I don’t really know how the teachers were trained. Anyway, I preferred experimenting on my side to keep learning!

« I studied graphic design…and quit. Teachers’ skills are to be questioned over here! They are the antithesis of modernity. ». »


How did you make you graphic design skills evolve?

I focused on the exploration of different medium. I love to innovate on the form of art: it can be via installation, new medias or by mixing digital and physical for an experimental result. I can use lenticular technique, Kinect camera or just a white canvas.



How do you handle censorship, still operating in Vietnam?

I have a different approach depending on what message I want to deliver. When I know I can display my work in a private place – or at least unofficial, I allow myself to work on more political topics. Over here, it is still impossible to officially exhibit works that question Vietnamese society or government. Sadly, I can’t post these kinds of works online for example!


Other than political topics, what are your inspirations?

Different and specific subjects inspire me. Planetary system and the effect of humanity on it, the relation between human beings and their environment… they are subjects that I love to explore and that I exhibit on my tumblr (here).
For example, I worked on the impact of human beings building urban areas on the planet. Proliferation of buildings transforms the Earth in a weapon that destroys other planets.

« Proliferation of buildings transforms the Earth in a weapon that destroys other planets. »



On another project, I worked on the concept of “wealth” created by human beings. They are what they are and think that everything created by the mankind is sparkling with beauty. The project is called “ Gems of creator” and is a poster printed in lenticular technique, an installation and a poem. The irony of the project is to look at people putting their head in the toilets to look at gems, even if they don’t know where it is from!

The following poem was displayed next to the installation.

« If I was the creator, I would not just want to turn lead into gold.
I would want to turn my urine into sparkling jewels.
And because I'm the creator I know that everything has its own beauty.
That beauty sparkled in my flying imagination. »



Another subject I love working on is childhood memories. How can we perceive them now that we grew up? I created a few projects around this topic. One of them is the installation called “ Infinite in the finite”. When I was a child, I was fascinated by the reflection of the full moon in the well’s water at my parents’. I worked around this memory to try to recreate this feeling today: how to see the infinite moving in a finite and fixed space?

« How to see the infinite moving in a finite and fixed space? »



While we are talking about childhood memories, can you talk to us about Con Streetwear, the brand you founded?

I created this brand to express myself in different ways, on replicable objects from the daily life. And to earn a little money during my study. The whole meaning of this project is childhood and Vietnamese traditions revisited in a modern aesthetics. Oh and I know that “Con” in French is not a pretty word, but in Vietnamese it just means “Kid”!
I love to understand art history and traditions to be able to create new things, joyful and dynamic. I think that the current Vietnamese youth is too focus on a mainstream culture, inspired from western culture. They can’t figure out how to reconcile their heritage with a modern life.

« I think that the current Vietnamese youth is too focus on a mainstream culture, inspired from western culture. They can’t figure out how to reconcile their heritage with a modern life. »




Where is the brand’s symbol from?

The symbol is directly inspired from a traditional painting from Tranh Dong Ho. I chose it for its human and optimistic aspect. I twisted it to renew it according to current pop culture codes.

Paintings from Trang Dong Ho are popular: they are full of meaning in symbolics and beliefs. On these ones, the child is happy and has his hands on an animal. Chicken or duck, each animal has its own symbols – may it be prosperity, luck or fertility for example.


What are the products that you developed for Con Streetwear?

I started by developing ready to wear: easy pieces to focus on the visual and the declination of the symbol. I am currently developing accessories to be able to explore more materials and shapes.

I put another Vietnamese symbol in my work by adding a red scarf: the one that every Vietnamese student has to wear to primary school. I twisted it to express all steps of our growth, until the point of wearing it in a street style.

« I twisted the vietnamese students’ scarf symbol to the street culture. »



I love exploring this connection between childhood, traditions and our current life!
I developped “Paper Draft”: a laptop case on which I twisted all the codes of vietnamese school to have a street and cool design.


And to conclude ?

I am very proud that Con Streetwear products have been chose to represent Vietnamese youth in the last video clip of Isaac Delusion!






Mark
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