Nam Viet: a story by Tanmay Chowdhary


A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, waiting, and not knowing. Liminal space is where all transformation takes place, if we learn to wait and let it form us.

The series focuses on exploring the idea of the ‘liminality’ that marks the movement from a third world to a first world nation. Vietnam, officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is the easternmost country of the Indochina Peninsula. With an estimated 94.6 million inhabitants, it is the 15th most populous country in the world. The depictions of Vietnam in war films made by Hollywood, combined with the years spent in America talking to veterans who participated in the war, formed the emotional skeleton through which Tanmay saw the contemporary liminal space that was Vietnam.

Tanmay jumped on a tour bus traveling cross country from Ho Chi Minh to Da Nang with a team of street skateboarders from America. Watching the fading landscapes from the window of the bus while listening to the mixtape curated by the Americans was in some ways a re-imagination of the Vietnam War. The reconstruction of Vietnam since the war parallels the reconstruction of India and other third world countries that have been colonized in the past.

Tanmay has grown up in the cities of India and has explored the neighborhoods within Asia – Nepal, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand. The unique sense of space, culture and aesthetics of these regions are all slowly merging into one another in the contemporary globalized world. With the first world countries of the West as prime benchmarks, the race towards a concrete jungle is intensive. With this photo series, Tanmay aims at reflecting on the nostalgia that marks the generations that are on the tail end of the ‘liminal’ country.

About the author:

Tanmay Chowdhary was born in India in 1990. He works as photographer, cinematographer and filmmaker with a Masters degree in Film from the University of Southern California. His photography work has been published by various magazines and publications around the world. The films he has shot have premiered in international film festivals, including Camerimage, Directors Guild of America and Festival du Nouveau Cinema. He received the outstanding achievement in Cinematography award at both the First Look and Tide Film Festival.

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