Photographs by Thomas Billhardt

Photographs by Thomas Billhardt

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03 – 29 Mar 2023
Floor 2 – Deutsches Haus
33 Lê Duẩn, Phường Bến Nghé, D.1, HCMC

From Goethe Institut:

Thomas Billhardt (*1937 in Chemnitz) is considered one of the most important documentary photographers in the GDR. He was a freelance photojournalist and became world famous through publications in international magazines and through exhibitions in numerous countries. His pictures documented the horrors of the Vietnam War for the first time, especially in the faces of the children he photographed.

Thomas Billhardt traveled to the bombed and fighting country six times between 1962 and 1975, and many more times later. His photographs have been published in several illustrated books. »Pilots in Pajamas« (1968), »Longing for Peace: Vietnam« (1973), »Hanoi. The Day Before Peace« (1973) and »Faces of Vietnam« (1978).
In 2020, the photo book »Hà Nội 1967-1975«, published jointly with the Goethe-Institut, was published by Nha Nam Verlag.

Thomas Billhardt calls his pictures honest. In doing so, he underscores his independence as an artist and emphasizes that what counts for him is an unobstructed view. What comes before his lens and why he presses the shutter must be worth capturing. Not only because the negative films were expensive at the time, but also because he photographed in public spaces. It’s about the moment that won’t come back. A beautiful face in a gray world, an innocent laugh in a harsh and threatening environment, an everyday idyll that makes you forget fear and war and gives hope for normality in peace.

As a photographer, he looks for the unadulterated moment, the face, before the person knows that they are about to be captured on film. It’s about the moment before the person reacts and seeks control over her appearance. Capturing this moment, immortalizing the people in their unadulterated uniqueness, creates the intimacy and warmth of his photographs, which trigger empathy in the viewer – for example for the people of Vietnam.

Thomas Billhardt is a wide awake-critical scout of the poverty and crisis areas of our world. The ambassadors of his imagery were always the children. The fact that his art is political and not bold has also made him a star on the western art and photo market. Thomas Billhardt’s work has been represented by the renowned photo art gallery CAMERA WORK since 1999 and has been shown many times internationally.

The exhibition at Deutsches Haus is a retrospective of Thomas Billhardt’s work in Vietnam from 1962-1999, including photos from South Vietnam that have never been shown in Vietnam before.

The exhibition is organised by the German General Consulate Ho-Chi-Minh City, supported by the Goethe-Institut, Deutsches Haus and Camera Work.

Follow updates on event’s page.

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