A Folktale From Vietnam: Speeding Motorcycles and Roasted Lemongrass

A Folktale From Vietnam: Speeding Motorcycles and Roasted Lemongrass

Gianpaolo ARENA

Publisher: The Velvet Cell

Gianpaolo Arena’s photobook “A Folktale From Vietnam: Speeding Motorcycles and Roasted Lemongrass” is the result of numerous visits to Vietnam over a period of eight years. Arena, a photographer, researcher and writer interested in anthropizated spaces and their environmental and social relations, arranges his photographic fragments of the country – architectural observations, portraits, snapshots and photographic records of encounters – into a poetic, multifarious visual study that is less interested in a smothering dissection of the country and its culture than it is in recognizing and representing it.
The book also includes four essays (by Fabio Severo, Simona Galateo, Francesco Bergamo and the artist himself) in Italian and in English translation.

“Listening to this book signifies, at one and the same time, taking in its silence and turning on a radio on which each images tuns in to one of a multitude of frequencies, carrying the voices, music and sounds of the landscape and life of Vietnam. Some of these presences, multiplied and dispersed, define the unmistakable aural identity of the main Vietnamese cities. The cacophony produced by the low hum of wheels on the roads, by the irregular but incessant sputtering of mopeds, by work on construction sites and by such individual sources of sound as car horns, radio speakers and the voices of inhabitants and of birds in the numerous cages hung from buildings on the street front, constritutes for the visitor, especially if a Westerner, an unbearable chaos. Yet chaos is the label we attach to what we are unable to understand, to tangles that we are trying to sort out, to the thread of sound that we still struggle to follow.”
― from Francesco Bergamo’s essay “On the Trail of the Vietnamese Soundscape”


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Book Size
240 × 120 mm
144 pages
Publication Year
English, Italian
Limited Edition