Photos by* TANY
The original photo resource for the “Viet Vernus Lighter” was one of the first photographic portrayals of Vietnamese people that came from the lens of the French colonist. These photographs were then sent back to France as exotic souvenirs from the east and sold as postcards.
The captions on those postcards suggest the western colonizer’s point of view toward the Eastern appearance and culture. Racial differences and racial stereotypes were a common theme of postcards of this era.
These depictions did not allow for Vietnamese to control their narratives.
We perceived these photographs not as strange depictions of barbarism like the colonizers did. We were struck by the beauty of the Vietnamese people.
By removing the context from this image, we have transformed and elevated this woman into saint-like status. Observing people's adoption and passion for Greek and Roman monuments. We imagined our Vietnamese women to be on par with the statue of Venus de Milo in terms of beauty, whose arms are famed for being missing.
She's now on a lighter, a goddess of the people, giver of fire and love.