Inspired By Snails? | Ho Chi Minh City | SE Asia #010

The second day in a new city is always our favourite and day two in Ho Chi Minh City was no exception. Having gotten all the touristy stuff out of the way the day before, we decided to branch out of the city centre and look for another of our favourite things: the art district.

If you’ve been following on the blog or Instagram for a little while, you’ll have seen us at Beijing’s 798 Art Zone and Hong Kong’s Tai Kwun and you’ll know just how much we love great aesthetics, thought-provoking visuals, and a cheeky café or two to go along with it. So we couldn’t NOT try to find more of that in Ho Chi Minh City.

Some Google and intense orienteering brought us to the Factory Contemporary Arts Centre in Saigon’s second district, the very first space created specifically for contemporary arts in Vietnam. The warehouse-esque building has a couple different gallery spaces, a co-working area, and a reading room as well as a little cafe and restaurant attached.

We were most interested in the upstairs exhibit, Silent Intimacy by Đặng Thuỳ Anh. There’s no way we can describe the themes of the installation better than the gallery has already done, so just know that they’ve described the exhibit as “using golden apple snails, contemplatively dubbed with the impact of urbanization on human life.”

'Silent Intimacy' installation at Factory  Contemporary Arts Centre.

Now, we’re not visual art critics by any means, but we found ourselves delighting in the scale of some of the pieces (hundreds (or more?) of passport-photo sized images glued in perfect grids on the walls, an entire room covered in reflective aluminum), being able to make connections between the pieces and the artist’s own story.

Neglecting to fully read the exhibit’s program lead us to many ‘aha’s and moments of discovery, which spiralled into imagining our own creative projects with brand-new passion and excitement.

Snail aquarium installation at the Factory Contemporary Arts Centre.

It makes no sense but we had rarely made the effort to seek out these inspiring events and exhibits while we’re home and yet it’s one of our first priorities when we’re travelling – such a shame especially because we (normally) live in a city that has so much going on!

Like we wrote in a former blog post, “It seemed silly not to bring that adventure-in-the-everyday attitude back home… We could travel wherever we were, exploring our city, exploring neighbouring cities, exploring our country. Discovering new things is what travel is all about and we can do that anywhere.”

So with our return to Hamilton just on the horizon, we’re making a new commitment to find the exciting contemporary art exhibits, performances, and events that inspire us, and frankly just give us a lot to talk about!

Photo installation at the Factory Contemporary Arts Centre.

As always, we love hearing about the exciting arts and events you’ve encountered while travelling. What do we need to visit next? As always, leave your recommendations in the comments below!

Check out our most recent post from Southeast Asia about the War Remnants Museum in Saigon

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