In the course of creating RE:SOUNDING, artists James Nguyen and Victoria Pham have unearthed treasure troves of material on the ancient Đông Sơn drum.
As part of their research they have compiled videos, images and writing about the histories, stories, contestations and complex narratives around these Bronze Age drums and the many worlds through which they have moved. Here they offer insight into the process of developing the re:sounding project, from collecting information about the drums, experimenting on a drum to reimagine its sound, to behind-the-scenes discussions about cross-cultural identity and Vietnamese mythology. Writer Sheila Pham offers commentary into the world of museum and gallery collections, while contemporary conversations about repatriation, technical recordings, and experimental acoustics further illuminate the context of the project as a whole.
The Đông Sơn Bronze drum is pivotal to the Vietnamese sense of identity. Created between 1000 and 3000 years ago in Northern Vietnam, these drums were traded throughout Southeast Asia and China. They were commonly used in religious ceremonies for fertility and good harvests, but could also be instruments of warfare. In more recent history, Đông Sơn drums were collected during the French colonial period with many sent away to museums and collections in Paris. Illegal trade in antiquities following Japanese occupation and, later, the Vietnamese-American War displaced many of the remaining drums into the private and public collections of international museums and collectors outside of Vietnam and South-East Asia. Several of these instruments are now located in Australian museums.
re:sounding proposes strategies to recover, repatriate and rematriate the sounds of these instruments.
- RE:SOUNDING is commissioned and presented by Arts House and Campbelltown Arts Centre as part of BLEED 2020.
- Lead Artist, Filmmaker& Photographer: James Nguyen
- Lead Artist, Composer, Sound Software designer: Victoria Pham
- Musicologist, University of Melbourne: Tuan Le
- BLEED Reference Group consultant (tech): Dan Koerner
- BLEED Reference Group consultant (architecture): Joel Spring
- BLEED Reference Group consultant (media, radio and podcasts): Miyuki Jokiranta
- Access consultant: Imogen Yang
- Performer (Percussionist): Salina Myat
- Performer (Percussionist): Adam Cooper-Standbury
- Performer (Percussionist): Hamish Upton
- Writer and Researcher: Sheila Pham
- Curator Asian Art, Art Gallery NSW: Matt Cox
- Translator: Kim Loan Pham
- Research video participants Salote Tawale, Kerry Head, Nguyễn Thị Bịc Hà
- BLEED is conceived, produced and presented by City of Melbourne through Arts House and Campbelltown City Council through Campbelltown Arts Centre. BLEED has been assisted by the Federal Government through Australia Council for the Arts, its funding and advisory body.
- The RE:SOUNDING project has been supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body and by the NSW Government through Create NSW.
Performance with Ran Cap DuoiMusic Performance
Experimental Vietnamese band Rắn Cặp Đuôi reimagine the 2,000-year-old instrument at the heart of James Nguyen and Victoria Pham’s multi-faceted project re:sounding.