Charlie surfs on Lotus Flowers

Exhibition space:

Fascinated by the contradictions of post-war Vietnam, a country somewhat in limbo between free-market capitalism and the strict rules of the Communist party, Italian photographer Simone Sapienza embarked on a journey to explore the country beyond its perfect travel photographs. Almost 40 years after the victory of the Viet Cong troops against the USA, modern Vietnam has radically changed its ambitions and dreams. Populated by a young and energetic new generation, the country is likely to become one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. However, behind this illusive economic freedom, the Communist government still holds absolute political power.

Departing from the conventional photojournalistic approach, Sapienza crafted Charlie surfs on Lotus Flowers as a sequence of metaphorical responses to notions of power, economy, energy, exoticism and politics that characterise the current Vietnamese society. Like its national flower – the Lotus – Vietnam is going to rise above the surface of its recent muddy-water past to blossom with remarkable beauty. Allusive and ambiguous, Sapienza’s images prompt the viewer to question their presumptions about a country that is still ruled with order and control, yet eager to ride the wave of economic freedom. / Text edited by Federica Chiocchetti for Jaipur Photo 2017