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Expats on graffiti vandalism in Vietnam: Art or not, it should be at the right place

Expats on graffiti vandalism in Vietnam: Art or not, it should be at the right place

Tuesday, May 28, 2024, 10:02 GMT+7
Expats on graffiti vandalism in Vietnam: Art or not, it should be at the right place
Vandals scrawled graffiti on the facades and spaces along Loi Boulevard in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tien Quoc / Tuoi Tre

Expats living in Vietnam have become concerned by a group of foreigners who had been scrawling graffiti on walls in downtown Ho Chi Minh City.

Many believe these vandals should be fined and required to clean up the mess they created.

“This is unacceptable,” American Marcia Ring said under a request to comment by Tuoi Tre News.

“How dare people come to a new country and vandalize it.

“They need to be fined, or even deported from the country.”

Ring added that people under 18 in her home country are not allowed to purchase spray paint, and those who are caught usually face a fine.

“There are many successful programs in the States where there are special places for graffiti artists who are given walls to practice their art,” she said.

“They also ask these artists to create public murals on popular graffiti sites, so other artists will leave those alone out of respect to the original artist.”

Living in southern Vietnam’s Vung Tau City, Ring often sees graffiti on construction panels and abandoned houses, but never on people’s real property.

“Some of it is very witty and enjoyable and shows insight into young people's attitudes here, so I really don't mind it,” she said. 

Graffti vadalism has long been a headache for cities in Vietnam.

In Ho Chi Minh City, dozens of houses, shops, and walls along Le Loi Boulevard in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City have been smeared with graffiti, causing great annoyance to the facility owners and defacing the appearance of this central thoroughfare.

Dozens of houses, shops, and walls along Le Loi Boulevard in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City are smeared with graffiti, May 18, 2024. Photo: Tien Quoc / Tuoi Tre

Dozens of houses, shops, and walls along Le Loi Boulevard in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City are smeared with graffiti, May 18, 2024. Photo: Tien Quoc / Tuoi Tre

A graphic artist himself, French-Canadian Joss Huot, had mixed feelings about graffiti art.

“To me, it is important that graffiti expresses an opinion or a sentiment, rather than serves as ‘gang logo’ or a tag that, in all honesty, nobody really understands,” he said.

Over the last few years, Huot has noticed more and more graffiti in Ho Chi Minh City, mostly on walls, roll-up doors, and bridges.

 “You can find graffiti anywhere now, in every district,” he stated.

More than 50 houses with roll-up doors along Le Loi Street in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City are covered with graffiti. Photo: Tien Quoc / Tuoi Tre

More than 50 houses with roll-up doors along Le Loi Boulevard in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City are covered with graffiti. Photo: Tien Quoc / Tuoi Tre

According to him, graffiti has long been present in many other countries and Vietnam is only now catching up.  

“In regard to the foreigners that were recently caught doing graffiti, I think they should be sent back where they come from, but not before paying some kind of fine or having to clean the surfaces where they made their ‘masterpiece’,” he said. 

“My opinion may seem harsh to some, but I believe it’s all about respect.”

In Canada, Huot said, graffiti offenders who get caught are forced to pay a fine. 

“If only these ‘artists’ could put their talent to create something that has some artistic value, because some of these people are very talented,” he said.

A photo by Joss Huot shows a mural he called 'gorgeous 'on a building in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.

A photo by Joss Huot shows a mural he called 'gorgeous' on a building in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.

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Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

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