Posted on

Sun 30 Apr 2023, 02 pm – 06 pm
Mon 01 May 2023, 10 am – 06 pm
02 – 14 May, by appointment
Kyara Arthouse
Alley 234 Trần Nhân Tông, Cẩm Thanh, Hội An

From the organizer:

In the golden afternoon light, we welcome you to this collision between the Far East and the Wild West, between analogue and digital, north and south, old and new to begin a new era beside the Thu Bon River.

This portrait series profiles a team of workers and artisans who were instrumental in the construction and design of Kyara, which was completed between lockdowns as the uncertain days of the COVID-19 pandemic rippled through central Viet Nam in 2020.

It was a time of great confusion and uncertainty when we had to dig deep to make lasting connections with the right people, building friendship and trust to make it all come together. Skills, materials and time were incredibly difficult to find, and we all had to manage through unpredictable circumstances.

We were building a dream, working with brothers and sisters to create a family home that could also be a place of artistic collaboration. When we met the Black Hands gang, ideas coalesced into an opportunity to document the people who had become part of our lives. The series captures a particular time when, as relationships deepened, the key workers were introduced to this idea of having their portraits taken, and they willingly agreed to participate in this project.

One by one, over several weeks, they sat patiently in the garage-style Black Hands Studio, where 24/7 aircon kept the chemicals chilled, a refuge from the summer heat. They watched in awe as Boris Zuliani and Hugo Armano lifted heavy 50x50cm plates of glass, coated the wet plates with silver nitrate and collodion, slotted them into a bespoke box camera built by master carpenter, Francis Roux.

The big flash captured unique facets of their personality, recording every line on their face using this 19th Century wet plate collodion photographic technique. We asked them to each bring their most important tool with them to feature as a prop. Their expressions reveal their pride in their work as well as their intense focus in response to being immersed in the Black Hands studio experience.

Three years later, we celebrate their essential contributions to building Kyara House as well as lasting friendship. The collaboration with Black Hands Studio marks the premiere of our ongoing project at Kyara to cultivate this spirit of connection with art and artists. We hope Kyara becomes a trading post for artistic ideas and innovation here in the ancient port of Faifo, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hoi An.

Black Hands Studio, the brainchild of photographer Boris Zuliani, sits at the confluence between the coastal dunes and inland waterways on the fringes of Hoi An. Boris has worked in Viet Nam since arriving from France in 2007, pursuing his artistic projects on the side of his fashion and editorial photography assignments. He has exhibited his work in Europe and the US as well as in Viet Nam. Boris works with his Black Hands partner-in-crime, Hugo Armano to create unique wet plate collodion masterworks.

James Compton is a writer on arts, culture and nature conservation. His first sojourn living in Vietnam as a journalist and researcher in the mid-90s left a lasting impression. Now based in Hoi An, he co-manages Kyara Arthouse as a hub for artistic practice and exchange, together with his wife, embroidery artist and textile enthusiast Pham Ngoc Tram. In 2023, Kyara is now offering opportunities for artist residency and exhibition space – details upon application.


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