Fifteen months after the conclusion of the 2015 International Sculpture Camp in Ho Chi Minh City, dozens of works have fallen into decay, without being displayed or cast into bronze.
In December 2015, 51 international and Vietnamese sculptors gathered at the Museum of History, Culture and Ethnicity in District 9, Ho Chi Minh City to take part in the 2015 International Sculpture Camp.
The event was the second of its kind, jointly organized by the municipal People’s Committee and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Works at the camp were praised for their variety of style and artistic expression. Artists were given word by the organizers that their works would be cast into bronze and displayed at public locations in the city.
However, as of April most of the sculptures, which are carved out of polymer material, have remained at the museum where the camp was held, with many having fallen into decay.
“I made my sculpture from polymer because the organizers promised that it would eventually be cast into bronze, but they have yet to live up to their words,” said sculptor Tran Mai Huu Quy. “Polymer sculptures are not supposed to be left out in the weather. I can’t even have it repaired, as it’s the city’s property now. It saddens me very much, you know – it’s my brainchild after all.”
Meanwhile, works by foreign artists made out of clay are suffering the same fate.
Le Lang Bien, a Vietnamese sculptor who was asked to fix a broken sculpture by a foreign artist, said the camp’s organizers seemed to have forgotten about the work.
“The sculpture has been left at my place since 2016,” Bien said. “I will ask to have it removed somehow, or I won’t be held accountable if something happens to the sculpture while it is in my care.”
Uyen Huy, president of the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Association, said it was now more urgent than ever to cast the polymer and clay sculptures into bronze, as once they have fallen into decay it is irreversible.
“The association has voiced its concern multiple times at meetings with the city’s administration and the municipal Department of Culture and Sports, but so far all we get in return is silence,” Huy said.
“The camp’s organizers think their responsibility ends when the camp is over, while those responsible for displaying the works are turning a blind eye to the problem,” said sculptor Bui Hai Son.
According to Son, the camp’s organizers also failed to deliver on their promise that they would print a catalogue featuring all of the works at the event.
“The catalogue is very important for international sculptors, since it is proof of their works abroad,” Son explained. “If the organizers don’t do it, the city has clearly gone back on its word.”