Wednesday, August 12 2020


Việt Nam, through an Italian lens

Update: May, 04/2017 - 09:00
Art becomes life: Dario (left) has made friends with many local people in Việt Nam. -- Photo courtesy of Dario Tommaseo
Viet Nam News

By Lương Thu Hương

Việt Nam is now closer to Italy than a map would suggest, thanks to a photographic exhibition entitled ContrAddiction, Vietnam Living Country, in Udine City, Italy.

The exhibit comes as part of the Far East Film Festival, the most important Asian film festival in Europe.

Each photo displayed in the exhibition is depicts simple, peaceful and ordinary life in Việt Nam, from the north to the south. For instance, it shows a mother sitting with her son on a hammock, an ethnic man going to work in the early morning with his buffalo, and a father carrying his son on his shoulders.

Those photos are the fruits of Italian photographer Dario Tommaseo’s five monthlong visits to the country since 2014.

“I have always had some strange attraction to Asian culture. Therefore, after my trip to Nepal, I decided to travel to Việt Nam,” Dario said.

“Since my first moment in Việt Nam, I’ve been fascinated by its people, culture, food and places. Underneath the simplicity is deep complexity,” he recalled.

The 42-year-old photographer’s passion was formed during his 18-years of work as arts and creative director in international advertising agencies in Italy and Spain. Now, he’s dedicated his life primarily to reportage photography.

Taking up the craft last decade, Dario has had his works featured in several Italian and Spanish magazines and renowned publishing houses. He has also been invited to exhibit his photos in many arts events in Italy and Spain, like “Argentina: ieri e oggi” event in Milan in 2013 hosted by the Consulate of Argentina, or an exhibition for “Fotofesta" in Barcelona, Spain in 2008.

“I like to get fully involved in a natural way. I’m moved by a sincere interest in creating a human relationships with my subjects,” Dario said.

“The primary aim of my photos is to reflect and convey faithfully my personal relationship with the scene and the subject,” he added.

National treasures: The Italian photographer poses in his exhibition entitled ContrAddiction, Vietnam Living Country. The exhibition depicts the simple, peaceful and ordinary life of Vietnamese around Việt Nam. -- Photo courtesy of Dario Tommaseo

Dario’s photographic style is truthfully reflected through his works exhibited in ContrAddiction, Vietnam Living Country. Looking through his lens, viewers can enter the world of each photo.

“I can see that the photographer has a thorough knowledge of Việt Nam simply by looking at his photos,” said photographer Matteo De Stefano. “He has clearly gotten involved in their daily lives.”

Dario said that he did not want to showcase the country, its landscapes, or ethnic peoples as they are usually captured.

“I wanted to show the daily life of Việt Nam and its people, not as something far and exotic for an occidental viewer. I wanted to show Vietnamese people as close to us, with their humanity and of course, their differences,” he said.

“ContrAddiction is the mix of two words, contradiction and addiction,” Dario explained. “Việt Nam is a place where the opposites exist, living together in total union and harmony.”

“Here is where poverty and hospitality, humility and elegance, fatigue and smiles belong to the same people. And it can happen almost by chance staying with them in pleasant company for hours, communicating perfectly without being able to understand a single word.”

“And the second word ‘addiction,’ meaning it is easy to get addicted to these contradictions, as it has happened to me,” he added.

Accompanying him closely in capturing every moment of contraddictions in Việt Nam is a full frame reflex Canon camera, and in line with his stylistic choice, he strictly uses a fixed wide-angle lens.

Unlike other photographers, who apply photographic techniques to enhance their final works, Dario makes no adjustment to his photos, keeping them as original as possible.

“I want to represent real life without any adjustment, which is my philosophy. I never retouch the photos, and even never crop. I leave them as I took them. The photography, to me, is something emotional, so if I crop the picture, it will not represent what I really felt at that moment,” he said.

His five visits to Việt Nam were filled with unforgettable memories with the local people, whom he has considered as his close friends.

“I remember hours drinking, eating or just sharing happy moments with unknown people -- some of whom spoke barely any English, or when, so many times, the Vietnamese strangers wanted to take photos with me. I also remember when I was invited to a wedding of a couple I had never met, and they were very happy to have me as a foreigner attending their happy day. I was also proud and happy to be accepted too,” Dario recalled.

“I deeply believe that to really understand a place, you have to live obsessively in contact with the people who live there. I have many Vietnamese friends in Việt Nam, and a lot of the subjects in my photos became my friends after I took photos of them.”

Besides taking photos, the Italian photographers also joined many local charity events. In his last two visits, he brought along some school supplies collected and bought in Italy for the schools in remote northern Việt Nam. He also took part in a charity trip to central Việt Nam that was suffering from a historical flood to provide necessities like medicine, food and clothes.

Dario is currently working on a photographic book about daily life in Việt Nam, and he plans to live and organise photo tours in Việt Nam in late October and early November for both foreign tourists and Vietnamese. The tours will enable the participants to learn photography while exploring the beauty of the country.

His photoraphic works can be seen on the website: — VNS



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