Place of Belonging

Nơi Chốn Thuộc Về

By Hải Thanh

Part of Photo Hanoi’23 at Vincom Center for Contemporary Art (VCCA), Hanoi, Vietnam

Hai Thanh (b.1972) has an insatiable drive to photograph. For nearly 30 years,  documenting and archiving have been a daily practice. Although photography began as a hobby, Hai Thanh worked as a photojournalist for many years before focusing solely on non-fiction documentaries. He had spent his entire career delving  into the lives of others, using the camera as a diaristic tool and medium to chronicle  the intimacy of strangers.  

Nine years ago, Hai Thanh, who was always in a constant state of in-betweenness, settled down, had a family, and relocated to Ho Chi Minh City. A sense of displacement urges him to explore the notion of “home” in such a personal way,  which resulted in a thoughtful journey to fatherhood.  

Using still images and sounds, Hai Thanh’s endeavor provides an appropriate  pretext for us to examine a “place” we hold dear, an intimate landscape, a  nostalgic moment, a familiar recollection; it was an invitation to gaze both inward  and outward. These photographs compose a beautiful tribute to family bonds, with all the joy, complexity and intricacies that they carry.