Hundreds of silver cranes suspended around a transparent pillar emitting yellow light sway and glow in the darkness, "flying up like incarnations of souls of dead bodies on the seashore".

The origami cranes, made by artists Himiko Nguyen and Ha Rom with silver paper from cigarette packets, reflect a Japanese legend and belief that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by the mystical crane that lives for a thousand years.

In this artwork, the cranes symbolise a prayer for continuation of life, says Himiko, who considers Japan her second home.

The cranes are among several poignant expressions of sorrow, despair and prayer that can be found at the Troi Vao Hu Vo (Flow into Nothingness) exhibition which opened in HCM City last week.

The family of Himiko Nguyen's "Japanese mother" lived in Ibaraki, one of the three areas destroyed by the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11. She still has no information about them.

The work of another artist, La Huy – Empty, Transparent Children's Coats made of wax – reflects great personal pain. Huy's son is one of the disasters' many victims.

The group exhibition at the Himiko Visual Cafe in HCM City also showcases the coal on paper works of Nguyen Son, one of them titled Nowhere.

Himiko Nguyen said the exhibition was not a movement or subscription for charity but an expression of sympathy over human fate./.