A Photography Exhibition by Thomas Billhardt
The Goethe Institut, Camera Work, Nhã Nam Publisher and Manzi Art Space are pleased to present an extraordinary photo exhibition featuring Hanoi in the period of 1967 to 1975 by world-renowned
German photographer Thomas Billhardt.
Consisting of more than 130 black & white and colour photos taken during his 6 trips to Vietnam, Thomas Billhardt’s exhibition brings an honest documentary of Hanoi from 1967 to 1975, minute by quotidian minute, sincere and unadorned.
‘Hanoi 1967- 1975’ through the lens of Thomas is the joyful moment of welcoming a child born in the wartime, the captured American pilots in the camps, the people bicycling in the rains, the outdoor drawing classes with barefooted pupils, the innocent happy faces of children, the iconic stadium with football crowds lost in passionate cheers… All these visual notes make a symphony about life steeped in hardship but brimming with care and love.
‘Thomas’s photos held up a mirror to the world while at the same time holding out hope. They tell of the world’s social inequalities, of poverty, of suffering, of war, but also of the life and laughter of the people who live in it’ – said by Dr. Wilfried Eckstein, Director of the Goethe Institut.
‘Hanoi 1967- 1975’ exhibition thus carves out its own realm of memory where Hanoi appears in all her various expressions of this time.
The exhibition will open from 3rd Oct. to 15 Nov. 2020 at both spaces of Manzi: 02 Ngõ Hàng Bún and 14 Phan Huy Ích, Ba Đình, Hanoi. A photo book Hà Nội 1967-1975 published by the Goethe Institut and Nha Nam Publishing House will be launched during the exhibtion with a series of talks and film screenings.
Thomas Billhardt (*1937, Chemnitz)
Foto: Wolf Lux
was one of the GDR’s most extraordinary photographers. He worked as a freelance photographer. His shots of the Vietnam War earned him worldwide fame. He was the first to capture the horrors of this war on camera, especially in his photographs of children’s faces.
Thomas Billhardt traveled to the war-ravaged country six times between 1962 and 1975 and has returned to it several times since then. The photographs taken during these trips have been published in four illustrated books. “Pilots in Pajamas” (1968), “Longing for Peace: Vietnam” (1973), “Hanoi on the Eve of Peace” (1973) and “Faces of Vietnam” (1978). A photo book of the same title as the exhibition has been published by Nha Nam Publishing House.
Thomas Billhardt describes his pictures as ‘honest’, thus underscoring his independence as an artist who seeks the bare, unbiased view of things. When he hits the shutter button on his camera, the things in front of his lens must be worth capturing, not only because back in those days, negative film was expensive, but also because he worked in public spaces. What he tried to capture was irreproducible moments, authentic, sincere images, like a beautiful face in a bleak world, innocent laughter in a harsh, threatening environment, an idyllic everyday moment that makes us forget about fear and war and gives us hope for peaceful normalcy.
As a photographer, he seeks the unadulterated moment, people’s faces before they realize they are about to be captured on film. It is about the moment before they react and try to control their appearance. Capturing this instant, immortalizing people in their candid uniqueness, is what creates the intimacy and warmth of his photographs that stirs empathy in their viewers – for example, with the people of Vietnam.
Thomas Billhardt is a sharply alert, critical explorer of poverty and crisis spots around the world. Children have always been his ambassadors. The fact that his art is political, yet not simplistic, has made him a star in the Western art and photography scene. Since 1999, Thomas Billhardt's work has been exhibited at the renowned photo art gallery CAMERA WORK and has been shown in many locations around the globe.