DOMDOM – THE HUB FOR EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC & ART
Like a mechanical part in a big machine, Domdom is to become an effective engine to activate and raise awareness about the significance of experimental and contemporary music and art in the process of our cultural development. With such determination and energy, we believe that DomDom will grow to become a cultural icon for a new generation of Vietnamese artists and audiences – to become independent and progressive thinkers and, in its own way, do its part in reinventing and developing the experimental and contemporary music and art scenes of Vietnam.
When people come to think about the 60’s, they usually think about social movement and reforms. Refusing the governmental authorities, Americans went on streets to protest against Vietnam war and the conservative society. Experimental and contemporary art have evolved to become the reflection of this new egalitarianism and social movement. Famed experimental theater director and playwright Peter Brook describes his task as building “… a necessary theater one in which there is only a practical difference between actor and audience, not a fundamental one.” This quotation resonated as an insult in the most conservative ears but also as a revolution. In fact it sounds like a desecration of art, the democratization of art.
Contemporary artistic forms have never stopped reaching out to explore the larger social, political, economic and philosophical realities of everyday life but what distinguishes them from their historical antecedents is that they – collectively – are much more socially and humanly conscious than any previous era has been. Unquestionably, contemporary culture has become not only an important component that forms a society; an effective agent to transmit ideas, values and attitudes from one generation to another; but also a substantial influence on people’s process of moral, human and creativity development.
The lack of creativity threatening the economic development of Vietnam (Vietnam News, 15.02.2013) outline the underdevelopment of the art education system as well as the effective role of nowadays institutions. In fact in Vietnam, the definition of contemporary culture has been greatly been misinterpreted, and its function has long been stripped down to the most simplistic task – to merely entertain. There is a great danger in perceiving cultural and artistic activities in this manner, because when expectations are not met, the public tends to reject, neglect and even dismiss them completely. This in turn destroys the firm relationship between the three central aspects, which are needed to form and maintain a fit mechanism for art and culture development: the creators, the critics and the audiences. Like a three-legged stool, in order to keep its balance, all legs are essential. Without this mechanism, the audience will also lose an opportunity to take the path toward realizing some of the most important values of life that any existing human being should live by. As a result, there is no space for creativity and experimentation to exist; no place for the foundation of contemporary culture to settle; and ultimately no chance for the process of cultural continuity to progress.
There is a real need to develop art education and especially experimental and contemporary art in Vietnam. The accessibility to this kind of art should be easier and visible. Culture is for all and contemporary and experimental art is an essential constructive element of culture that allow people to develop their personality first and their critical thinking leading them developing creativity in thinking out of the box.
The years between 2004 and 2010 saw the birth of a new generation of alternative art spaces and foundations in Vietnam such as San Art, Zero Station, New Art Space Foundation and Nhasan Studio, helping the local contemporary art scene grow faster than ever. Yet the same cannot be said about the country’s music community, as there has never been an official source of funding, support nor space for local experimental and contemporary musicians. Establishing a platform for experimental music and its related creative industries therefore stands at the forefront as the Center’s founding mission and most important function.
The Hanoi New Music Meeting 2009 – the first pilot project – was a catalyst for conversations and collaborations among local, regional and international practitioners of music and other art forms. It was to be seen as a playground for various types of artistic expressions to gather and interact; and a transitional meeting point to further encourage musical and artistic exchanges between the East and the West. This showcase was the place where local composer and musician would be valued, offered opportunities to produce and have their works presented beside a diverse range of high quality experimental music and arts, and be among other leading international colleagues.
In fact 2,500 people attended this two intensive weeks performances and workshops including four evenings of high quality and critically acclaimed experimental music performances. Twenty artists joined the project bringing together the best experimental musicians from Vietnam and around the globe. The Hanoi New Music Meeting promoted freedom of expression in music and related artistic field, encourages musical and artistic collaboration and initiated the audience to experimental music. This first ever experimental music festival in Vietnam has helped to increase the social and media recognition as well as the will to create a new art space: Dom Dom.
The three key objectives of the pilot project were: 1/ to promote freedom of expression in music and related creative fields; 2/ to encourage musical and artistic collaborations among practitioners of different backgrounds; and 3/ to initiate a long-term plan of building an alternative structure for experimental music in Vietnam. The next phase of the project has took place at the end of 2012 with the opening of DomDom, the first ever centre for experimental music and arts in Vietnam.
INTRODUCTION OF DOMDOM
DomDom has been created in 2012 as the first independent interdisciplinary center fully dedicated to the operation and advancement of Vietnamese experimental music and its interdisciplinary collaborations with other arts forms. The Center promotes all forms of contemporary music and art practices: establish the first Creative Platform for Experimental Music in Vietnam; initiate and educate Vietnamese to experimental and contemporary art and provide music training for young composers/musicians in order to generate a strong foundation for the Vietnamese experimental and contemporary scene; offer an audience development program that encourages music appreciation and participation for the public.
Nowadays, Domdom works with several partners like the Swedish and Danish embassies, respectively, and VNAM, in order to maintain high-end, quality educational programs that promote freedom of expression in music and related artistic fields; encourages musical and artistic collaboration; and initiate audiences to experimental music.
1. A local platform and a regional/international meeting point
Not only does it function as a physical working space for all musical and artistic activities, the platform also presents a home for both the local artists’ community and the general public. Its operation includes the four following activities:
Designed to assist and develop local musicians/composers and artists by 1/ offering them an opportunity to make and showcase new works in all experimental forms; 2/ encouraging frequent and constructive conversations between them and the public; and 3/ motivating collaboration and debate among the creators themselves.
Designed especially for established international musicians/composers, with the intention of 1/ enhancing dialogues and stimulating collaboration between them and the local musicians/composers as well as the local community; 2/ presenting original works in all experimental forms to the public; and 3/ generating support and contribution for the Center’s Education and Audience Development programs.
Designed especially for specialist music writers and musicology students, in order to 1/ broaden their music and art knowledge base; 2/ improve necessary skills through regular practice and direct contact with all of the Center’s programs; and 3/ generate a new team of proficient music writers contributing for the Center’s media channels such as newspapers, online forum, website and TV shows.
Designed to support and organize exchange programs of a larger scale like music competitions, networking events, music/art projects, festivals etc. between Vietnam and other countries from the region, with a focus on connecting and developing the music and art scenes of South East Asia.
2. Education Program – Supplementing & Connecting
Understanding that it is almost impossible to transform the current national music education system, and with “Assistance, not replacement” as our working motto, we have established a multilateral partnership relationship with the Hanoi National Academy of Music and other international organizations of experimental and contemporary music, and built an Education project which consists of the following five courses: Music composition, Music theory (thesetwo courses are designed to supplement the courses currently taught at the Academy), Improvisation, Computer music (these two courses are designed to introduce new subjects into the Academy’s education program), and an Experimental chamber orchestra. Though this project exists independently and separately from the Academy’s academic program, it also acts as a means to initiate and experiment with new teaching approaches and subjects, which the Academy can utilize in the future.
This project will begin in 2012, and its content is being put together with our overseas partners from developed countries. As the project goes into operation, they will directly participate as project advisors; and will provide us with experts, musicians, lecturers and quality evaluators. Our residency artists will be also invited to tutor and train.
With the Education Program, we aim to offer students and young practitioners an opportunity to:
3. Audience Development Program
In no hierarchical order, there is, finally, the public audience. Similar to the others, this remaining part of the three-legged stool is vital on the road to building a foundation for the development of experimental music and arts.
The objectives of the Audience Development program are: 1/ to step-by-step change the public’s misconception and negative attitude toward the local experimental and contemporary music and art communities; 2/ to stimulate their need for, and inspire them to actively take part in experimental music and art activities; and 3/ to form a mutually beneficial relationship between the creators, critic and audiences, in which exist both praise and criticism, support and challenge, enjoyment and contemplation. A relationship that will help build the most ideal living and working environment for the involving parties.
With our Audience Development program, we will:
To achieve these aims, we plan to use a wide range of approaches through various media channels (including a newspaper column, an online interactive forum, a TV program and a series of community-based workshops and live concerts) so that we can reach audiences of different types, ages and backgrounds; and most importantly, to engage them as active participants of the Center’s programs, and to inspire them to become our companions on this exciting journey.
4. Hanoi New Music Festival – The first Biennial for Experimental & Contemporary Music in Vietnam
The Hanoi New Music Festival will launch in Hanoi in December 2013, expecting to welcome audiences of 5,000. With five to ten internationally established performances from overseas contemporary artists and artist groups, and ten newly commissioned original works by local artists, the festival will take place in theaters (including the DomDom’s experimental theater) and public spaces around the city, depending on the requirements and nature of each performance.
In addition to the main events, there will also be fringe activities running throughout the duration of the Festival, such as a competition for young composers in the region; after-concert programs opened to children and young adults, as well as specialist and non-specialist audiences; and other activities from our Audience Development program.
The Hanoi New Music Festival aspires to be a trigger button to kick-start conversations and collaborations among local, regional and international practitioners of music and other art forms; a playground for various types of artistic expressions to gather and interact; and a transitional meeting point to further encourage musical and artistic exchanges between the East and the West.
Our primary vision for the Festival is to become the biggest showcase of all the best Vietnamese experimental music productions; and the central station for both emerging and established local experimental composers and musicians to come together.