Spotlight on Nguyễn Thế Sơn: Sovereign Asian Art Prize Artist Highlights

A closer look at the finalists for The 2023 Sovereign Asian Art Prize.

Can you tell us a bit more about the protest that took place in this building? What did the protest hope to achieve?

The protest was made exactly in 2 days, from April 30th and May 1st in 2018. After nearly a year when the community in our Helios Tower building experienced a lot of troubles with a construction company. Hanging the national flag on this special day seemed to be our last opportunity to show our attitude, kind of like making an SOS sign to the government.

After 2 days hanging nearly 1000 national flags from almost all the balconies of the apartments, we made a really strong attraction that drew attention from a lot of media. We had an opportunity to express our voices as well as share our patriotic inspiration with society. After the protest, we received some positive results to protect the benefits of the community living in Helios Tower building.

What does the symbol of the Vietnamese flag mean to you?

The symbol of the Vietnamese flag depends on how we use it.

In what way has art positively impacted your life?

For artists and curators like me Vietnam, my practice in visual art is the best way to show my point of view in the value of diversity in art practice. Contemporary art in Vietnam is still not really developed. Photography is still not considered an artistic medium like painting of sculpture, so I often practice in fine art photography as the way to show freedom in expression in art as well as engagement in social research.


This interview with Nguyễn Thế Sơn is part of a series of interviews highlighting the shortlisted artists for The 2023 Sovereign Asian Art Prize – the 19th edition of Asia’s most prestigious prize for contemporary artists.