“Roots" documents my last visit home, Hanoi, in 2013, before my family migrated to another country. It was the last time I can call myself "a Hanoian," someone who is born and raised in Hanoi. During this period I spent a lot of time wandering the city, trying to capture every corners that shaped my growing up experience, that gave me an identity.
Through these small books, I want to reflect my changing perspective of the place I was born in and understanding of the people I grew up with.
Exhibited in "Behind the Terrain" in Tokyo, Japan. 2018
Installation at "Behind the Terrain" exhibition, Nha San Collective, Hanoi, Vietnam 2017
The first book is about the strange sensation of being in spaces that were once familiar. Time is one of the main factors that distorts spatial memories.
The second book is about the change of pace of life in my hometown. Hanoi has become faster than I thought. Sometimes in the chaos of everyday life, images of human become those blurry shadows haunting every corner of town.
The third book is about my dad. He has keen observations about people that are wonderful in details and brilliant in hilarity. It was interesting and amusing to make a portrait about an observer. As I watch him looking at other people, I notice subtle changes in the dynamic of the spectator and his subjects.
The fourth book is about my sister's wedding, who came back to Vietnam to held a formal wedding, fulfilling obligations of descendants. Wedding in Vietnam is treated as another form of business, in which people and relationships are commodities. Vietnam's culture usually expects people to have a big wedding, as it directly affect one's reputation.
The fifth book is simply a visual poem about the remaining beauty of old Hanoi as a lot of historical architectures have been destroyed with the rapid development and urbanization of the city.
The sixth book is about Tet or Lunar New Year, which always reminds me of childhood. Kids tend to enjoy Tet more because they have time off from school. For adults, Lunar New Year just means more work and expenses.
The seventh book is an attempt to pack memories of my childhood, the street I lived my whole teenage life, and the corners where I spent a lot of time when I was a kid.