After clean-up, slight return

Concept by Cao Thanh Lan and Gregor Siedl

Sound walk, duration: 13’03

commissioned by “Into Thin Air” Edition no.2, Hanoi 2018

Mai Dich is a fast-changing neighbourhood and has, unlike many other neighbourhoods in Hanoi, an unusual high concentration of artists from different genres – ranging from traditional music to military music, from folk art to stage drama to circus.

It is where Cao Thanh Lan grew up, so some sounds in this composition are also the sounds of her childhood memory, seen or re-listened from a different perspective and put in a different context. Complimentary to Lan’s approach, Gregor Siedl sees Mai Dich with different eyes and ears. He sees and hears many things that are usually ignored or taken for granted.

Mai Dich used to be a green suburb of Hanoi, where paddle fields and flower fields and lots of trees were rampant. With the rapid urbanization, sounds of birds, insects and trees are gone or submerged by traffic noise.

With the “clean-up” organized by state-run institutes located in the neighborhood, many street-shops and street-hairdressers had to disappear, some of them have spent 20 or even 30 years of their life in these corners.

This sound piece is a lively non-narrative collage where the listeners experience the long forgotten sound of nature like cicadas, frogs, etc., the close-up sounds from the daily activities of the two protagonists – a street hair-dresser and a street innkeeper – sounds of people practicing and performing “tuồng”, “nhạc đỏ”, “xiếc”,  “chèo”, etc. and sporadically the usual traffic noise.

What you see along the walk is „the After Clean-up“ and what you hear is „the slight Return“.


“Into Thin Air” is a long term art‐in‐public project initiated and curated by Manzi Art Space with a view to building awareness and appreciation for art, particularly contemporary arts among the public, to helping artists develop their independent practices whilst encouraging their involvements in social development within the current context of Vietnam.

The project attracted more than 20,000 visitors from different backgrounds, young students, normal housewives, intellectuals, workers and artists of Hanoi.

A Facebook Fan page for Into Thin Air was created and reached 2,500 likes within 10 days of the project. Each post of the page reached 2,000 to 4,000 Facebook users.

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