As Good As Vietnam Gets
Laval Captures Magical Perspectives of Hanoi and Hue
A collection of 30 photographs that illuminate Hanoi and Hue at night will go on display at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi April 14 – 24 and at the MGallery La Residence Hue Hotel & Spa in Hue April 29 – May 4.
Conceived, executed and produced by Sebastien Laval, a Poitiers, France-based photographer with ties in Vietnam that date back to the early 1990s, the haunting images in the ‘Hanoi 18h/6h Hue 18h/6h’ exhibit evoke surreal perspectives of otherwise ordinary settings – quiet alleys, lonely railways and fluorescent-lit shops.
For the work to be exhibited at the Metropole and La Residence, Laval used a digital camera, and no dedicated artificial light. He made all of his images between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The images will hang in the Metropole’s garden (exhibit opens with a reception in L’Orangerie at 6pm on April 14) and in the lobby at La Residence.
“These images should inspire many of our guests to become more ambitious flâneur (city strollers) as they look out for the same sort of brilliant glimpses of this city,” said Franck Lafourcade, general manager of the Hotel Metropole Hanoi.
The oldest photos in Laval’s collection date back to December 2007 when he first ventured into the streets of Hanoi with his camera. He discovered a new urban landscape, transformed by the absence of harsh, flooding daylight into a more magical place, alive with colors and textures that require the company of starlight and moonlight for resolution.
“I grew up in Hue, and I know this city like the back of my hand,” said Phan Trong Minh, general manager of La Residence, “but Sebastien’s images are showing me something brand new.”
Laval picked up photography as a young man, inspired by his grandfather in Paris. He made his first trip to Vietnam in the early 1990s, documenting the lives of ethnic minorities, and exhibited this work at the Hue Festival in 2008 and 2010, and then again in 2014.
For the Hue Festival 2016, he has published a new book, entitled Hue: City of Crying Stones that’s composed of photos, poetry and commentary by Vietnamese scholars. Philippe Bouler wrote the text for the book.
After the hotel exhibits, the images will hang in the Art Vietnam Gallery at 24 Ly Quoc Su in Hanoi.
Between the Night and Day in the Two Capitals of Vietnam