Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Hidden Smile, a photo by French photographer, Réhahn, based in Hội An ancient town in central Việt Nam, has been purchased by a Vietnamese living overseas in Australia.
The photo, which portrays Madame Bùi Thị Xong, a boat rower in Hội An, was sold at US$30,000 when its buyer, Công Nguyễn, came back to visit his hometown.
“When I looked at the Madam Xong photograph, I saw so much more than just the subject. Every wrinkle, every crease, not a blemish but a story of a life earned. A life lived. Devotion, work ethic and yet so much incredible warmth in her eyes,” said Công.
“I didn’t choose this photo. It chose me. I do not own it. I am proud and honoured to be its temporary guardian,” he added.
As revealed by the photographer, unlike his other 100x150cm photos, which normally have 15 copies printed in metallic papers in France, Hidden Smile has only three copies.
All the money from the sale of the first copy will be donated to the construction of the museum of Cơ Tu ethnic people’s culture in Tây Giang District in the central province of Quảng Nam, which is expected to be completed later this year.
The donation is part of Réhahn’s Giving Back Project, which is designed to improve the lives of the characters in his photos, who are from the poor, rural areas of Việt Nam.
The second copy of Hidden Smile is being put up for sale at $50,000.
Earlier, in 2015, Réhahn’s other photo, capturing an ethnic girl communicating with an old elephant in the Central Highlands, was sold at 10,000 euros ($12,000) during one of his solo exhibitions in France.
Madam Xong, as she is respectfully called by Réhahn, has since become the most famous woman in Việt Nam, featuring in more than 200 published articles, worldwide. Her face is now the most recognised face in Việt Nam and in some parts of the world.
This iconic photo also features in the Vietnamese Women’s Museum, representing the strength, kindness and hard work of the women of Việt Nam. — VNS