N E X T .

Shadow Followers (đuổi theo chiếc bóng)

2007 The Bảo Lộc Project with 15 participating households (Lâm Đồng)

  • Photo-ethnography ‧ participant-led documentation ‧ coffee & tea plantations ‧ ethnic minorities

Commissioned by A Little Blah Blah, curated by Sue Hajdu, supported by Pro Helvetia, Swiss Council for the Arts, in collaboration with Son LeNgoc, Pham Than Tam, Nguyen Huu Binh, Nguyen Van Duong, Tran Thi Thuan, Nguyen Nhu Quynh, K’Boi, Le Ngoc Tram, Tran Van Dong, Pham Viet Hien, Nguyen Duc Hanh, K’Oahn & Co Thuy, Le Thi Phuong, K’Li Ang Va, and Roslisham Ismail (aka Ise).

Prior to camera-sporting smartphones and ubiquitous social media, this distributed, photo-ethnographic exploration brought together a wide range of people from this coffee-growing south-Vietnamese countryside to document what they found noteworthy. Most participants had never used a camera before, so they were given single-use cameras over a four-week period and instruction to point the lens in the direction of the shadow for best exposure—making them to Shadow Followers. Participants took photos and notes six times a day, swapped exposed camera with prints in weekly meetings, and self-curated the group exhibition in the coffee warehouse at project’s end with excitement.

The project integrated participants from various ethical groups (including the indigenous K’ho community), class and generations into a unity of purpose. Naturally this brought about tensions of envy, resentments, and authoring that demanded negotiation and reconciliation (in families and group).

Coffee harvesting. Photographed by K’Oahn and Co Thuy.
Coffee and tea orchards. Photographed by K’Li Ang Va.
Coffee harvesting. Photographed by Tran Thi Thuan.
Coffee drying. Photographed by Tran Thi Thuan.
Coffee packing. Photographed by Pham Than Tam.
Fertiliser preparing. Photographed by Tran Thi Thuan.
Tea picking. Photographed by K’Oahn and Co Thuy.
Tea picking. Photographed by K’Oahn and Co Thuy.
Tea sorting. Photographed by K’Boi.
Dish washing. Photographed by K’Boi.
Going to school. Photographed by Le Thi Phuong.
Shadow Followers
Participants received free cameras and prints, in turn taking six photos daily to provide glimpses into their work lives.
Shadow Followers
After one month the participants met each other and self-curated the concluding exhibition.
Shadow Followers
The novice photographers were asked to point the lens in the trajectory of their shade.