In his famous picture book, the German photographer carves out his own realm of memory when the Hanoi capital went through the most difficult wartime some decades ago.
Hanoi in the past: arduous but beautiful
|The of two little girls wearing straw hats was taken in the Northwest of Hanoi in 1968.
Over 130 photos with rich photograph vocabulary, epitomized and rare shootings of Hanoi in the book are like ‘black and white’ movies about the capital in the years of fighting and defending the country.
Those snapshots saved the iconic images of the old Hanoi such as women queuing to catch every drop of water from the public tap, children playing in the playground slide beside the garden with construction bricks, outdoor painting class, Hang Day stadium full of people wearing service caps and conical hats.
According to Vietnamese renowned writer Do Phan, the photographic artworks by Thomas tell us about suffering, war, and also about people’s lives and their smiles.
“Hanoi of Thomas Billhardt is a Hanoi in the memory of the old generation, a meticulous chorus that sings a song full of hardship but also love,” he said.
Hanoi during the American war, bomb shelters were dug along all the streets and beneath every house. The photo of children in a bomb shelter was taken by Thomas in 1968.
Talking about the photo collection, Wilfried Eckstein, Director of the Goethe Institut said that Thomas’s photos held up a mirror to the world while at the same time strengthening hope.
Thanks to these exciting rare shots in the photobook that were captured by the talented photographer and his great love for Hanoi, today’s young locals would have a chance to look back at their city in the harsh time ever.
Hanoi in the period 1967 – 1975 suffered food and water shortages, but smiles still shone on the face of its people in all the beautiful, simple and peaceful streets as portrayed in the photos.
Thomas’s photographs of the anti-American War in the late 60s of the last century made him famous around the world. The message senders in his photos have always been children.
“The compassion and tolerance of the Vietnamese people at that time was great. Human love and mutual support are something you can easily see,” Thomas shared in his photobook.
A strong candidate for Hanoi’s important cultural award
A woman and her son are seen in this photo taken in Hanoi by German photographer Thomas Billhardt during the 1970s.
Along with two works by Vietnamese authors, the book series “Imperial Thang Long – Ke Cho” by Nguyen Huy Thang and “Playboy” by Mai Lam, the photobook “Hanoi 1967 – 1975” by Thomas was nominated for the “Works- For the Love of Hanoi” category at Bui Xuan Phai Award in 2021.
Other shortlisted nominations include: Project “Using virtual reality technology in reconstructing Dien Huu – One Pillar Pagoda”; The idea of building an underground highway and renovating the To Lich River into a historical, cultural and spiritual park; and Red River Urban Subdivision Planning Project (Category “Ideas – For the Love of Hanoi”)
Nominations for the category “Actions – For the Love of Hanoi” include: Hanoi Creative Space Design Contest; the Drawing contest “Hanoi is…” and the series of activities of “Hanoi Rethink” group; the Vaccination campaign in Hanoi.
The awards were classified into the four categories: “Grand Prize”, “Works- For the Love of Hanoi”, “Ideas – For the Love of Hanoi” and “Actions – For the Love of Hanoi” The “Bui Xuan Phai – For the Love of Hanoi Awards” were initiated by the Vietnam News Agency (VNA)’s Sports and Culture newspaper and the family of the late famous painter Bui Xuan Phai (1920-1988) in 2008 to honor his career and spread his love for the capital city.
So far, nearly 150 nominations have been submitted and about 50 prizes awarded to both Vietnamese and international authors during its past 13 seasons.
|The portrait of renowned Hanoi painter Bui Xuan Phai (1920-1988). File Photo
The jury of the awards includes individuals who are recognized by the public for their contributions to the development of Hanoi cultures, such as poet Bang Viet, historian Duong Trung Quoc, architect Hoang Dao Kinh, and other journalists Ho Quang Loi, Ngo Ha Thai and Le Xuan Thanh.
According to the organizers, the 14th season in 2021 takes place amid the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Most of the cultural and artistic activities have been halted, leading to concerns about the lack of valuable nominations for the award.
“Hanoi has always been a special inspiration for creative ideas of people. Despite the raging pandemic, there are still many ideas that have contributed to the development of the capital city’s culture in recent years,” said historian Duong Trung Quoc.
“In order to select 11 official nominations for the four main categories of the award, the jury had to work hard for choosing the best works among dozen ideas that have been associated with Hanoi the over year,” he added.
It is expected that the awarding ceremony will take place in mid-October in Hanoi.