Zoe Butt

Zoe Butt is a curator and writer currently based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Zoe is Executive Director/Curator of Sàn Art, Vietnam’s most active independent art space and reading room. Previously she was Director, International Programs, Long March Project – a multi-platform, international artist organization and ongoing art project based in Beijing, China. From 2001-2007 she was Assistant Curator, Contemporary Asian Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia where she assisted in the development of the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT); key acquisitions for the Contemporary Asian art collection, and other associated gallery programs. Recent projects include: ‘Signs and Signals from the Periphery: Ho Chi Minh City / Medellin’, MDE11 with Casa Tres Patios, Medellin, Colombia, 2011; ‘Erasure: Dinh Q Le’, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, Australia, 2011; ‘Chi Toi, San Art,HCMC, Vietnam, 2010; ‘Memories and Beyond: 2010 Kuandu Biennale’, Taipei, Taiwan, 2010; ‘Porcelain’ with Superflex and The Propeller Group, San Art, HCMC, Vietnam, 2010; ‘No Soul for Sale: A Festival for Independents’, Tate Modern, UK, 2010; ‘Syntax and Diction’, San Art,HCMC, Vietnam, 2009; ‘Time Ligaments’, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong, 2009; ‘China in Four Seasons: Guo Fengyi’, Govett Brewster Art Gallery, New Zealand, 2009. Zoe has previously written for publications with Hatje Cantz, Art Asia Pacific; ‘Dispatch: Independent Curators International’, USA; Artlink, Australia; Printed Projects, Ireland; Realtime, Australia, and also various art exhibition and monograph catalogues.


Poetic Politic, curated by Zoe Butt.

Co-organized by Kadist Art Foundation San Francisco and Sàn Art, Ho Chi Minh City.

Ten artists from Cambodia and Vietnam include KHVAY Samnang, An My LÊ, Dinh Q LÊ, NGÔ Đình Trúc, Uudam NGUYEN, PHAN Quang, Phunam, VANDY Rattana, TRẦN Minh Đức and VÕ An Khánh.

Zoe Butt, curator and director of Sàn Art asks, “What does it mean to live in a country like Vietnam whose streets boast the booming voice of communist capitalism and yet the family lounge room still echoes with the memory of war? What does it mean to live in a country where traditional art forms lacking innovation struggle for contemporary relevance; where cultural curricula and public event lament the era before the Khmer Rouge wiped out intellectual life, or before Communist propaganda replaced one’s right to freedom of speech? What does it mean to possess ethnic and cultural attachment to a country whose complex memory you better recall through trauma, image and text rather than a current lived perspective? The use of photography and video by artists from Vietnam and Cambodia poetically captures the contradictions and inconsistencies of belonging, living or dreaming about contexts they are intrinsically connected and yet perhaps, also removed. What is evident in this collection of works is the power of mobility providing reflective perspective on the social state of play in communities these artists share, care and relate. From the theatre of war, territorial conquest, the pressure to politically conform and acquiesce to authority; to the touristic monopolies and mythological superstitions that perpetuate popular cultural stereotype – this exhibition is a glimpse of the talent that visually and metaphorically rephrases the presence of a political voice.”

You Tube Videos:

The Curator’s Perspective: Zoe Butt

Uploaded on Aug 29, 2010   –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOI_NSPILek   14:11 Minutes

Zoe Butt answers questions about the contemporary art context in China and Vietnam through a series of recent artist projects including Xu Zhen’s The Starving of Sudan project, Yang Shaobin’s X-Blindspot project, and Dinh Q Le’s Farmers and the Helicopters project.

This was the summer 2010 installment of The Curator’s Perspective, an itinerant public discussion series that features an international curator who distills current happenings in contemporary art, including the artists they are excited by, exhibitions that have made them think, and their views on recent developments in the art world.