Urbanist Hanoi

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[Photos] Tracing Hanoi's Contrast Between Neon and Shadow, Old and New

What is beneath the capital's skin?

I've been living and working in Hanoi since 2015. As a photography enthusiast, I started a personal photo project in late 2018 in the framework of the Invisible Photographer Asia’s Mentorship Program. I set out to document Hanoi’s recent transformations through a series of urban nightscapes, focusing on the juxtaposition between older residential areas and new urban areas.

Hanoi is shedding its skin. So what to make of its spirit? To find an answer to that question, I undertook many night scooter trips, searching for visual contrasts between the city’s colorful neon lights and dark shadows, old and new, formal and informal.

While out and about creating long-exposure photographs of buildings, alleys and construction sites, I stumbled upon a temporary container village housing construction workers.

I revisited this site several times, taking the opportunity to create some more gritty, street-style imagery. While I didn’t include these photos in the final edit of my "Hanoi Skin" series, I decided to sequence these into a separate series called "Under The Skin." Together, these series tell the same story, albeit from very different perspectives.

After wrapping up these series, I continued working on the project, adding and sequencing more images. The continuation of his photographic work will be published in a second installment on Urbanist Hanoi.

Shadow and light.

Shades of green and red paint the night.

Somewhere on the border of Cau Giay and Tay Ho districts.

Life in a tin shack.

Darkness envelopes Hanoi's partially-developed suburbs.

Incomplete ghosts of buildings.

Top photo: A man on a phone amid construction detritus, while the high rises of Cau Giay glow in the background.

Find more of Wouter's work on his website or on Instagram.