Laval, who has ties with Viet Nam that date back to the early 1990s, recently introduced a collection of 30 photos that illuminate Ha Noi and Hue at night in the Ha Noi 18h/6h Hue 18h/6h exhibition.
Using a digital camera and no dedicated artificial light source, Laval produced all of his haunting images between the hours of 6pm and 6am. The images evoke a surreal perspective of otherwise ordinary settings – quiet alleys, lonely railways and shops with fluorescent lights.
For him, each photo conveys a memory of a specific location, space and moment.
The oldest photos in Laval’s collection date back to December 2007 when he first ventured onto the streets of Ha Noi with his camera. He discovered a new urban landscape, transformed by the absence of harsh, flooding daylight into a more magical place, alive with colours and textures that required the company of starlight and moonlight for resolution.
“By taking photos between 6pm and 6am, I want to show Ha Noi in a different way. Even if you are familiar with a place, at night, under a different sort of light, that location has a different atmosphere,” Laval said.
The photographer also determined the difference between the capital city and the former imperial city.
“While Ha Noi is always bustling and constantly moving, Hue is generally quiet and shy. This difference can be seen even at night in some of my photos.”
The Ha Noi 18h/6h Hue 18h/6h photos are on display at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Ha Noi until April 23; after which, they will travel to the MGallery La Residence Hue Hotel & Spa for display from April 29 to May 4.
Commenting on Laval’s photos, the general manager of the Hotel Metropole Ha Noi said, “These images should inspire many of our guests to become more ambitious flâneur (city strollers) as they look out for the same sort of brilliant glimpses of this city.”
An exhibition visitor, Vu Thuy, said, through the photos Laval had produced in Ha Noi and Hue, she could feel the bond between the photographer and these cities.
“I’ve read somewhere that a city, like a person, can create different connections for different tourists. Depending on each individual, that connection can be love, friendship or dislike. With Laval, I believe it is love,” she said.
Laval picked up photography in Paris as a young man, inspired by his grandfather. He made his first trip to Viet Nam in the early 1990s, documenting the lives of the ethnic minorities, and exhibited these works at the Hue Festival in 2008 and 2010, and then again in 2014.
For the upcoming Hue Festival starting from April 29, the French photographer will introduce his newly published book Hue: City of Crying Stones. The 124-page book comprises photos, poems and commentaries by Vietnamese scholars.
Philippe Bouler wrote the text for the book.
After the hotel exhibits, the photos will be presented at the Art Viet Nam Gallery on 24 Ly Quoc Su Street, Ha Noi.