Color me gone
I lived in Vietnam for five years, but photographed the country for ten. While tourists littered the coastline and donned conical hats for selfies, I sought a time long past. I came to see Vietnam as a bit of a dark fairy tale or a film noir where I romanticize the nostalgia that I never knew. I was drawn to the bizarre and the juxtaposition between the poor and the rich. I lived on both sides of that divide all the while integrating into society and taking part of a changing landscape.
I sometimes felt like an uncomfortable witness to Vietnam’s growth. Toeing the line between my loyalty to those who left after the war and my fascination with the architects who are designing a new Vietnam. But over time, Vietnam became less of a place and more of an idea. A veiled dystopia constantly moving forward to the detriment of everything left behind.
But the sun rises just like any other place. And you remember what first brought you to this intoxicating country. The kindness and sheer resilience of a people who had been fighting invaders for more than 100 years. A people still fractured from a devastating civil war backed by foreign interests. A people who embrace capitalism over communism. A beauty of a country and its people strewn throughout the world that is now within me.
As an American, Vietnam always felt like a dirty secret the U.S. didn’t want to talk about. A scarlet letter the military wished it could strike from the record. I was born four years after the fall of Saigon and what I mostly knew about Vietnam, I learned from the likes of Kubrick and Coppola. A corrupt war that led to the destruction of America’s morals.
But I didn’t want this book to be about war. At the same time I could never get it out of my mind. Vietnam means very different things to different people. This book is designed in a way to simply challenge what you know about the country. The reader can experience the book frontwards or backwards. Each side offers a different perspective about Vietnam with a simple message: Forget what you remember and remember what you forgot.
The colors have drifted from my memory now. I never found the old Vietnam because it only exists inside the people who hold on to it. In fact, the relationship will always be complicated. I look back on the journey with affection and sorrow. I now understand that sometimes when you love something so much, you have to let it go. Color me gone.
Color Me Gone Trailer