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Don Unrau March 9, 2015

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Vietnam.

War Museum, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, 2014

Don Unrau (b.1950, USA) studied fine art and photography at the University of Colorado. In 1984, using the documentary form and his interest in post war Vietnam narratives; he began work on War Story, a portrait series of Vietnam veterans. In 1989, he was chosen for an artist residency at Light Work, where he completed that series. Don traveled to Vietnam in 1992 to photograph for the first time since he was there as a soldier during the war. He has returned to Vietnam many times and in 2009 his photographs were self-published in the book, Spring Visits: Photographs From Vietnam. His other books are: Hanoi Street Work (2012), and The Revolutionary Moment (2013), comprised of portraits of revolutionary Viet Cong. Don has shown in galleries in the USA and in Vietnam. He continues work on personal projects, including a limited edition, handmade book of the War Story portraits.

About the Photograph:

“This photograph was made at the War Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. I prefer to work with an idea contained in a series, and these images are from The Art Of (War) Tourism. At some point during every visit to Vietnam, I feel compelled to go to one or more of the museums. During the Vietnam War, many countries around the world expressed their solidarity with Vietnam. From what I observed, the tourists are were happy to pose in front of the American hardware that was left behind. Often, parents coaxed their young children to pose in front of a tank or big gun. Maybe they want a small connection to the war and a souvenir photo taken by a friend or family member gives them a feeling of solidarity. Occasionally, I’ll have a conversation about where someone is from and so forth. Many of the visitors are from Vietnam, but also, thousands come from other countries in SE Asia, Japan, Australia, Europe and Russia. In this photo, the young woman is wearing the popular Good Morning, Vietnam shirt from the Robin Williams film of the same name. After posing for her friends, I asked to take this photo and she graciously obliged, making the universal peace sign.”