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Vietnam 25 Years from darkness into light

Vietnam 25 Years From Darkness into Light

Catherine Karnow was born and grew up in Hong Kong in the 1960’s. Her father, the acclaimed journalist Stanley Karnow, was the bureau-chief for Time-Life and then foreign correspondent for The Washington Post, and reported frequently from Vietnam. Catherine is a National Geographic photographer based in San Francisco. She shoots magazine assignments around the world, as well as social documentary work, concentrating on Agent Orange victims in Vietnam. She also gives presentations and workshops worldwide. She started shooting Vietnam in 1990, and has returned many times. In 1994, Catherine was the only foreign journalist to accompany General Giap privately to Dien Bien Phu, and then to be a close witness to his funeral and burial in October of 2013.  A Talk Vietnam documentary about Catherine’s history with General Giap aired in May 2014, viewed by over nine million people worldwide.

Her exhibit covers twenty-five years of shooting in Vietnam: 1990 to present day. Photographs from 1990 show a country that was grim, dark, and struggling. The new economic policies of “doi moi” in the mid-nineties brought business from all over the world: Coca Cola; pop culture; golf courses affordable only to foreigners; a new school for Vietnam Airlines flight attendants. 

Current day Vietnam is a country hell-bent on zooming into the future as fast as possible. Out of a population of 90 million, 60 million were born after 1975, and have never known war. The suburbs look like Orange County. There is a new culture of materialism: designer shops, malls with huge water parks, a thriving film industry, international fashion shows, and a frenzied urban chaos.  Interestingly, it is those who escaped, the Viet Kieu, who are returning in droves and bringing with them a whole new kind of energy, changing the face of Vietnam.