On April 30th, 1975, a North Vietnamese tank rolled through the gate of the Presidential Palace in Saigon, signifying the end of the cruel American War and the beginning of a new independent era from Western regimes.
More than 40 years later, “Charlie surfs on Lotus Flowers” depicts post war Vietnam through a sequence of metaphorical responses to its current Hollywoodian limbo between the rise of the free-market economy and the Communist only-one Party that still rule with uncontested power since the end of the war, disappointing the hope of a democratic and free country. History repeats itself, looking at the West.
In fact, according to the Pew Global Poll, 95% of people in Vietnam agree that most people are better off under capitalism, even if there is inequality. Peopled by a young and energetic population, the country is likely to become one of the world’s fastest-growing economies – the next Asian Tiger – still ruled with undisputed order and control, yet eager to ride the wave of economic freedom.
In the series, people are often covered, hidden, symbolising how Vietcongs used to live hiddenly in tunnels or as spies. Meanwhile, Vietnamese working in the financial districts of Ho Chi Minh City pass by a red pop-up studio while they rush for their lunch-break, walking the thin line between fiction and reality, likewise the whole photographic series.”.
Simone Sapienza (b.1990) is a photographer graduated in Documentary Photography (BA – First Class with Hons) from the University of South Wales – Newport (2013 2016).
Simone has been recently nominated for the C/O Berlin “Talent Award 2019”, selected amongst the six finalists of “Grand Prix 2019” by Fotofestiwal Łódź and chosen for the third cycle (2019-2020) of Parallel Platform programme. Previously, he won the “Best Rising Talent” award by Gomma Grant in 2017 and was amongst the winners of the “Breakthrough Award” by The British Journal of Photography in 2016 and “PDNEdu” by PDN in 2014 and 2017. Finally, he has got honorable mentions at Pesaresi Prize in 2016 and PHmuseum Grant – New Generation in 2015 and 2018.
His works have been displayed all over the world in festivals and galleries, such as Fotofestiwal (Poland), Spazio Labò (Italy), Fotografia Europea (Italy), Jaipur Photo (India), Pingyao International Photography Festival (China), Triennale Milano (Italy), Museum of Photography Photobiennale Thessaloniki (Greece), Macro – Emerging Talents (Rome, Italy).
In 2018, his first photobook “Charlie Surfs on Lotus Flowers” has been published by AKINA.
In 2015, he co-founded Gazebook – Sicily Photobook Festival, then in 2016 he joined Minimum in Palermo. Since 2019, he is a guest teacher at Spazio Labò in Bologna, Italy.