Born Berlin, Germany (1987), lives and works in Saigon, Vietnam
video, 6.41 mins
haiku for Vinh 2022
video, 2.56 mins
from PLATTENLOTUS 2022
Courtesy of the artist
Production supported by Art in Networks. The GDR and its Global Relations (Technische Universität Dresden), ACC – Asia Culture Center & Visual Network of Architecture
Between no longer and not yet, between Vinh and German Democratic Republic (GDR), between the quest for a socialist utopia and the conquest of lost modernity, between 3-D animation and hand-drawn sketches of urban plans, and between futuristic beats and ritualistic dance, PLATTENLOTUS actualises itself in a speculative time-space. A time-space anchors on the Qingming celebration of the Year 2074, in which the concreteness of such a collective existence called PLATTENLOTUS is a triumph of communist nationalism and a centennial monument of GDR’s weltanschauung of utopia in Vietnam. In this specific time called Qingming – a significant date when Vietnamese people commemorate their ancestors – a worldview symbolising the living and the dead coexist in parallel situates PLATTENLOTUS. In this glimpse of a utopia in actualisation, the vision and the mission of the socialist state embody the synchronicity between the majestic plattenbau and the anonymous masses in a well-choreographed movement. The state, the ideology, the urban plan, the housing, and the people are all systematically rendered into one.
PLATTENLOTUS is a thought provocation speculatively acting out the enchantment of utopian promise. As part of Tran’s ongoing fascination exploring the alternative history of a Third World country, the gist of PLATTENLOTUS suggests a historical reference coming from the combination of platte and lotus. Platte stands for plattenbau (a compound word, platte-bau meaning slab construction/house), historically implying a house development programme in 1970s East Germany. Plattenbau was later introduced to Vietnam, resulting in the establishment of Quang Trung Housing Estate in Vinh. As the meaning of plattenbau symbolises the communist public housing approach by using prefabricated modular components to serve the massive demand for accommodation, lotus hints at the nationalistic spirit of Vietnam. PLATTENLOTUS is a worldview that visualises its domination through an urban plan without capitalistic senses of privatisation while championing Vietnamese nationalism without individuality. (Fang-Tze Hsu)
Arlette Quỳnh-Anh Trần’s work is included in Gregarious architectures.