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The public call out for the inaugural CIRCA x Dazed Class of 2021 initiative asked audiences to submit a 2.5 minute film in response to the theme ‘Communion’ set by interdisciplinary artist and lecturer, Angel Rose. After receiving 2,000 applications, we are proud to present the 30 finalists who will each receive access to the Dazed Space and have their work exhibited as part of the CIRCA programme, appearing across public screens in London, Tokyo and Seoul this September.

Expanding on their commitment to help support the talent of tomorrow, CIRCA and Dazed appointed a community of jurors including Cauleen Smith, Frank Lebon, Hugo Comte, Simone Rocha, Dexter Navy, Hans Ulrich Obrist and Michele Lamy to select their top 5 submissions. From this, one lucky finalist will be selected by world renowned performance artist Marina Abramović to receive the #CIRCAECONOMY cash prize of £30,000.

With public art spaces diminishing, investment in arts education being cut and artist communities at risk, this joint initiative aims to empower the next generation of artists working in moving-image by platforming new voices and points of view from local communities on a global level, giving them unrivalled media exposure and the tools to help kick start their careers.

HOA DUNG CLERGET, THE TRACE, 2021

My name is Hoa Dung, I was born in France, I live and work in London.

I hold a BA Hons in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins School and a MSc from Ecole Centrale de Lyon in France (major Applied Mathematics). I am in my final year of Master Painting at Royal College of Art.

Unlike some artists from the Vietnamese diaspora, I was born in the suburb of Paris, my work is more informed by my education in France. However, there is a transformation of the objects of my French-Vietnamese cultural heritage into disappearing objects. I most often choose domestic objects that I transform by economy of means. Through these mundane objects, I continue to explore the hybrid environment where traditions coexist in the homes of diaspora families. My works refer to the history of art and borrows from the Minimal (masculine) aesthetic. As a woman artist, I think that not to overdo it is a necessary indulgence.

My work most often finds its source in common memories that I share with my sister, my family, my community. It is a work that finds its source in the communion of memories.

The souvenir of the carbon paper is linked to one of the smell of ethyl alcohol used by the alcohol rotary duplicator, the ancestor of the photocopier. This smell used to spread throughout the classroom and intoxicate the schoolchildren until they were dizzy. The texts of these copies were affected by time, the ink fading quite quickly.

After sticking the carbon paper on the wall, the artwork appears when I start erasing it. The paper is torn off in a random fashion, but there are still pieces stuck on the wall highlighting negative shapes, namely the trace of what is no longer. The painting turns out to be the capture of a transitory state where the forms, between appearance and disappearance, coexist with each other without freezing, caught in a persistent ambiguity. The trace summons time. It gives the impression of being there only momentarily.

How did you become an artist and what was your route to your current practice?

HOA DUNG CLERGET:
I have always tried to be late as a way of being out of time and not adhering to the contemporary world. Art allows you to take this side step and find boredom and the necessary distance from the liberal society (the « half step behind » by Walter Benjamin in his book the Berlin Chronicles). I resumed my art studies late after having a job in a company. I often have this feeling of strangeness and detachment from the art itself. In my practice, I induce this state of delay. This results in modalities of my artistic activity ranging from necessary inaction to frantic labor.

What inspires you to make your work?

HOA DUNG CLERGET:
The exhibition space, as well as the viewers who frequent it, inspire my work. What will they look for in this space? what will they see? what will they remember? With the pandemic crisis, I sought to lighten my practice, to travel light from one studio to another. My work has adapted to the exhibition space, which is often precarious for a young artist. I like to inhabit space with my work and I favor in-situ installations.

Can you identify any elements of your community or collaborators that have had a strong influence?

HOA DUNG CLERGET:
I grew up in France in a Vietnamese family and in the Vietnamese community of France. We have a common unwritten history that is passed orally from generation to generation. It is contained in everyday objects, simple and banal. These objects often tell the story of immigrant women who through their gestures build the link between two different cultures.

Would you consider your practice to have a positive social impact, and if so in what way?

HOA DUNG CLERGET:
I make it an objective for my work, although today I consider the social impact small and limited to my family circle. I involve the women of my family in the development of my works. We speak together about our memories. I build my works from these exchanges. I try to involve them in the production: in my kitchen, we handcraft together while chatting happily; the gestures that I propose bring back memories of the countries of origin; we exchange our experiences and our emotions.

How is your project tied to the Circa x Dazed Class of 20:21 theme of ‘Communion’?:

HOA DUNG CLERGET:
My work is based on sharing memories. It could be a smell, that of carbon paper, or an intonation, that of the childhood rhymes that I share with my sister and my friends. There is always a communion of memories before creation. From this process, I hope that my work can bring together other souvenirs and experiences.

Has your work been recognised by any public bodies or organisations in the past?

HOA DUNG CLERGET:
I have produced and exhibited very little focusing on my research and studies at the Royal College of Art and Central Saint Martins School.

How would the #CIRCAECONOMY prize of £30,000 impact your future practice?

HOA DUNG CLERGET:
I hope to gain visibility in order to convince the institutions of my project and find interesting exhibition spaces. Regarding my practice, it could then be more oriented towards ephemeral installations in some locations with stronger social impact. I’m also happy that my installation The Trace is being shown on giant screens in cities. Torn paper like those of urban posters in decay areas is celebrated and magnified by the light of the screen. It’s a unique experience.

What would you do with the money?

HOA DUNG CLERGET:
I am currently preparing an exhibition about Motherhood for the end of the year. Having more funds would allow me to get a longer exposure over time, to organise discussions around this topic, to benefit from a larger space for more artists and to support their projects. More generally, having this funding would allow me to stage more exhibitions with the artist community in London and give more visibility to emerging artists who have not been shown.

I would also like to involve in the production of my works people from the Vietnamese community in London. I am thinking in particular of Vietnamese women who work in nail salons. Their job is difficult, their self-sacrifice is often forgotten behind the artificial and smooth beauty of varnished nails. I would like this prize to finance projects for the production of performative works with non-artists. These works would allow exchanges of experience and give visibility to the community of working women.

If you are awarded the #CIRCAECONOMY prize, how might this affect your community?

HOA DUNG CLERGET:
The most important thing for me is to bring art to the community. For that, I must collaborate upstream with it. I undertake to use this award for participatory projects and exhibitions in order to give more visibility to different communities (artist-mothers, Vietnamese women in UK).