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Living Together in Paradise

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Nguyen Manh Hung, Living Together in Paradise, 2011
Nguyen Manh Hung, Living Together in Paradise, 2011 Courtesy of the artist, image © Fee Harding

We consider Nguyen Manh Hung's sculpture “Living Together in Paradise”, currently showing as part of the 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Queensland, Australia...

Who? Nguyen Manh Hung’s upbringing in Vietnam is the thread that pulls his multifaceted artistic career together; work that ranges from paintings, sculptures and ambitious installations. His work, Living Together in Paradise, is currently showing as part of the 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Queensland, Australia.

What? In 2011, the artist embarked on an extraordinary structure inspired by the first 20 years of his life, which were spent in a Hanoi apartment block. Towering into the sky, this block housed many thousands of people, all living jumbled together in layers, the compact space taking shape as, by turns, shelter, garden, farm and community. As the artist stated himself, "Contemporary thinking might see this urban structure as one that isolates people even while living at such close quarters. I experienced it more as a complex "village" stacked vertically rather than spread out horizontally."

"Contemporary thinking might see this urban structure as one that isolates people even while living at such close quarters. I experienced it more as a complex "village" stacked vertically rather than spread out horizontally."

Why? It was Hung’s desire to create a largely positive work out of what might customarily be seen as a cramped, impoverished experience. Titled “Living Together in Paradise”, the meticulously detailed, rainbow diorama stands at three feet; tiny curtains billow, lights glimmer behind ill fitting shutters and washing hangs from the windows. And in Fee Harding’s sumptuous photos, the structure towers into the clouds, creating a sense of otherworldly isolation, far from the madness of the city on which it is based.

Living Together in Paradise is showing at the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Queensland, until April 14 2013.

Tish Wrigley is the AnOther assistant editor.

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