Vietnam has undergone several radical changes over many decades of colonial rule, occupation, different political regimes, all of which are closely linked to its present identity: During French neo-colonialism from 1945 to 1954, when the country was divided in two – the communistic North was supported by China and the Soviet Union, and the democratic South by the United States. The strong commitment of the United States in avoiding Communist rule in Vietnam lead to a hazardous war until the fall of Saigon, the Capital of the South, in 1975. Especially there, where most of the Vietnamese refugees in Norway come from, the period after the partition of the country was marked by war, forced cultural re-education, inner migration, family division and increasing urbanization and Western influence.
Even today, Saigon is still used as a name for this city by South Vietnamese and refugees, while it is officially renamed as Ho Chi Minh-City. The background to both of these names was and still is a sensitive issue. And it underlines the paradoxy of global influence and the political sphere that illuminates the relationship between a staged surface and the underlying melancholy of a lost city and country.
“Saigon” is an ongoing field research for a performative solo, where Tony dives into the history of his Vietnamese family in Norway as a template for identity conflicts in our modern society. A story of war refugees, and his parents as “boat people”- the traces that their experiences of war and arrival in a new “home” have left on themselves and in future generations. What happens to a family and their generations when they are displaced? What transmits over into the “new home”? And what remains of the old one?
“Saigon” is on the one hand a confrontation with his personal history and on the other hand an immersion in an important chapter of Norway’s recent history; a crystallization of complex interactions between a personal microcosm and the larger social context.