All around us, our landscape is changing. As globalization casts its spores across Vietnam, the cities face the threat of losing their individuality in the process. Destruction shadows the course of construction, upheavals accompany installations, and buildings blossom overnight. The incessant replenishing of our environment results in the formation of new landscapes, pushing the horizon far beyond urban zones. While this fills some hearts with hope, it fills others with grief and uncertainty. With the creation of new buildings, crumbling architecture and tight-knit communal spaces are deposited in their wake, becoming relics of a time that is now rapidly receding into the past. Empty fields now serve as a breeding ground for new apartment blocks. In this modern vertical living, we become detached in our own private boxes, isolating ourselves from other people and distancing ourselves yet further from nature.
Alongside the fluctuations in the landscape, sentiments and attitudes are also undergoing dramatic change in Vietnam, as people are gradually beginning to liberate themselves from the traditions and social norms that have stuck around for generations. However, with the emergence of new status symbols and cultural reference points, it leaves people in limbo between doubt and confidence. What some consider as a source of liberation cause anguish for others.
Volatile States is a reflection on the direction modern society is taking in Vietnam as it vies to keep up with the rest of the world. This series show juxtapositions and struggles that exist between old and new, the natural and the man-made. In a world that is becoming increasingly detached, the subjects to be broached are numerous if we wish to cast a critical eye.
Born in 1984 in Long An, Vietnamese photographer Duy Phuong grew up surrounded by photography. His parents chose that business to keep the family away from the breadline. Building from scratch, they offered their services for family events and, eventually, they opened their own modest studio. After entering university to study for a degree in photography in 2006, he was selected in 2008 by Jean-Luc Amand Fournier from the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie d’Arles for a three month residency. His work being displayed the following year at the Musée du Quai Branly as part of the ‘Photoquai’ exhibition.
Using photo-documentary, he would like to draw the attention of the Vietnamese people to the changes taking place within themselves and their surroundings. He chose the documentary form despite the fact that in Vietnam, photo-documentary is neither respected nor developed because it is, in Vietnamese minds, tied exclusively to the war and to history. Simultaneously documentary and work of art, his photographic projects are barely noticed in Vietnam. A country where the realization of a personal work depicting society is rare and considered of little value. Nevertheless, Duy Phuong perseveres on his road and continues to interrogate the modernization of Vietnamese society and the intimate mutations which come with it.