Nguyễn Xuân Khánh speaks about infrared photography at Photo Hanoi '23

May 17, 2023 - 07:00
Photographer Nguyễn Xuân Khánh discussed his two ongoing documentary photography projects since 2010, 'Angkor of My Dream' and 'Titan Sand', at Matca Space for Photography, Hà Nội.
One of Nguyễn Xuân Khánh’s photographs from the project 'Angkor of My Dream'.

HÀ NỘI — Black-and-white infrared photographs by Nguyễn Xuân Khánh have attracted attention of viewers at the ongoing Photo Hanoi '23 exhibition in Hà Nội.

Khánh recently discussed his two ongoing documentary photography projects since 2010, 'Angkor of My Dream' and 'Titan Sand', at Matca Space for Photography.

The talk was a side event of Photo Hanoi '23, the first international photography biennale in Việt Nam, initiated by the French Institute of Hà Nội with the support of the Hà Nội People’s Committee.

Khánh went into greater detail about the procedure and technique he used to capture black-and-white infrared photography projects.

Infrared photography, a technique that captures wavelengths of light that are invisible to the human eye, is used in both of his projects.

“I am more familiar with using black-and-white infrared photographs since colour photography fails to convey the effect and emotion I desire,” he said.

According to Khánh, his first project Angkor of My Dream is his tribute to Cambodia and the next generation about the beauty of Angkor, the ruins of the Khmer Empire’s capital city.

“When I was young, my father was active in the revolution, and I lived with my adoptive parents in Cambodia," he said. "Therefore, Cambodia is my second homeland. I celebrate New Year festival twice: Vietnamese Tết (Lunar New Year) and Khmer new year Chol Chhnam Thmey.”

“My twenty-year experience of residence in Cambodia and my ability to speak in Khmer allowed me to communicate with locals to discover the ideal location, angle, and moment of time from which to photograph.”

His second project, 'Cát Titan' (Titan Sand), was captured at the old titanium mine in Quy Nhơn, Bình Thuận.

“This titanium mine was turned into a resort and now only exists in my photographs,” he said.

Khánh also shared about his career as a professional photographer and how he acquired skills and technical knowledge of the photographic world.

At the event, Đức Việt, a freelance photographer in Hà Nội told Việt Nam News: "Photo Hanoi '23 is a great opportunity for the general audience to meet photographers and exhibition curators as well as learn about their creative process."

After the talk, both of Khánh's art projects were displayed to the public in the group exhibition: Đi Tìm Thời Gian Đã Mất (In Search of Lost Time) with nine other Vietnamese and foreign photographers. They give their own perspective on time through visual art projects.

“In terms of black-and-white infrared photography, Nguyễn Xuân Khánh is one of the most famous names in Việt Nam," said Lê Nguyễn Duy Phương, photographer and curator of the exhibition. "During two projects, he observed many interesting objects with different textures and forms found in nature.”

“Artists were the first ones to create close connections between ethnic communities," said Thierry Vergon, director of the French Institute of Hà Nội and general coordinator of Photo Hanoi’23 Biennial. "They also contribute to cultural exchange, connecting individuals and countries to become closer."

Khánh was born in 1948 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and started photography by taking family photographs at age 20. He moved to HCM City in 1970, then studied at EURELEC school and was a pedagogical trainee at the Arles national school for Photography in France.

Aside from several years of teaching photography at the Hồ Chí Minh City Academy of Theatre and Cinema, his works have been shown locally and internationally.

Among his notable photography exhibitions was a part of ''Mùa xuân Việt Nam'' (Vietnam Spring) programme by the Association Française d’Action Artistique (AFAA) in Paris, “Touch” in Cypress School in California, USA, and at The Factory Contemporary Arts Center in HCM City, Việt Nam.

He also played a role as art co-director at Việt Nam-France Photography Month in HCM City from 2005 to 2007.

The exhibition is open till May 31, at Mơ Art Space, 136 Hàng Trống Street, Hoàn Kiếm District, Hà Nội. VNS