Cristina NualART

Tag: Photography

Book review: Southeast Asian photography

Photography in Southeast Asia. A Survey is a book by Zhuang Wubin that I  highly recommend. My full book review can be read on Third Text.
The book is published by National University Singapore (2016), and will be of particular interest to lovers of photography and/or Southeast Asia.

ThirdText web view SEA

In short: this work is the result of an ambitious body of research that spans ten countries in Southeast Asia. Zhuang Wubin packs a lot of information into his book, limiting and neatly condensing what could easily be a far bigger volume. To contextualise each country, he gives only the bare bones of socio-historical facts, but the fascinating background information on each photographer is fast-paced with personal details, anecdotes and excerpts from interviews that give us a rounded sense of the person…

Possibly the favourite of my photos of Saigon so far…

I was crossing the road at a wild intersection, and turned around as a precautionary measure (checking for traffic coming from all directions). I stopped right between two busy roads, thanking the moon for having my camera with me.


Taipei Art Photo: the newest art fair model


Taiwan, a little island that is the third richest country in Asia, last week hosted its first art photography fair in the spacious Expo Dome in central Taipei. Chuan Hui-hua is the director of Taiwan’s first specialist art photography gallery, and the man behind Taipei Art Photo. The focus was slightly different to other art fairs that prioritise the art dealers. Galleries and publishers were present at TAP, but the aim of this fair was to give the individual creators their own spaces. Most booths were a mini solo exhibition of a single photographer, although some galleries showed works from their stable of artists.


Hand made photography books and rare editions could be handled with cotton gloves in a special section for this purpose. 50 artists from 14 countries showed their work in booths or display cases, or during presentations and talks. Below I introduce some of my favourites.

Ajay Kumar Sharma is a painter and experimental artist that came from India to show his hand-made photos on rugged Fabriano paper. He uses a little-known process called Van Dyck brown, similar to gum bichromate, to create sepia images that feel 100 years old, but are presented in highly contemporary ways. The simple framing of many photos to create a wall-size image, unframedphotos that hang diagonally or purposefully leaving out one part of a multiple image make it impossible for us to confuse these artworks with antiques.




Nick Veasy makes stricking black and white X-ray photos, which are more laborious to make than one might think. See what Nick thinks about X-ray radiation and how as he makes these works in his TED talk.



Emma Hack is partly responsible for the fair’s music. Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know was heard often, because she is the photographer that painted Wally and Kimbra in the much-shared music video.


From Taiwan, Huang Wen-Yung overlaps or juxtaposes photographs that have a grungey tint. The beautiful pieces come in varied formats. They are not abstracts, but nonetheless delight with the powerful shapes.


Hsu Yi-Tzu is a young Taiwanese artist who answers to Cathy. I found her art project fascinating. She takes old family negatives from her childhood, and stores in glass jars, where they decompose as the photographic gelatin peels off the film. These bottles end up as little sculptures, perfectly displayed and lit. The ‘rusty’ looking negatives generate a 2D photographic image, invariably dark and textured like the earth seen from space. Some digital manipulation adds enough information to completely mislead the viewers. The large prints with selected boxed areas are reminiscent of mapping software, speaking of the place in the big world that each person can get lost in.




Japanese photographer Kento Morikawa sits in front of her silver gelatin prints of botanical gardens, hanging low because she wants the low light to fall vertically, recreating the feeling of walking under cherry trees.



Ting Ting Chen, from Taiwan, showed photographs that require a close look. The 2 metre long Lambda prints of close-ups of piles of negatives have titles like I am a housewife and I would have to give birth to a male baby so my mother would be happy.


The fair will run again next year, so look out for it art photography is something you enjoy. It’s a friendly event!



Saigon snapshot

Things that the streets of Saigon has in abundance: sunshine, motorbikes, electricity cables and fresh drinks in plastic cups (coffee and fruit/veg juices)


Photo © Cristina Nualart 2013

Happy Independence Day, Vietnam

A rainstorm covered central Saigon in grey mist, but luckily, it dispelled quickly and I took this photo. The building with the Vietnamese flag in lights is not even finished yet, but the construction can carry on beneath the neon. Have a nice weekend, people in Vietnam!

Evening over Saigon

The rainy season is not yet here, but skies are often cloudier over Saigon, making her look small and tame…



Found Object + Ready Made

Accidental imitation of a Duchamp ready made as an impromptu urban installation.
I found this image in Saigon, where everything is the unexpected!

no images were found


Happy Year of the Snake!

Today Vietnam celebrates the Chinese New Year, and Saigon, the biggest city, is the only place where I have seen red hearts pop out of the firework display. You can see one of them among some of last night’s show in this little video. The last image shows you how far the smoke from the fireworks blew outwards!

For those who don’t know Saigon, the tall oval shaped building left of the fireworks is one of its landmarks: the Bitexco Tower.

The art of the decisive instant that fails to show process


I had the most interesting conversation with some friends, yesterday. A documentary film maker in our group expressed his dislike of (or perhaps disenchantment with) photography, because, unlike painting or film, taking a photo doesn’t generally require an output of  TIME. Of course we know it takes time to learn the skills and all of that, but my friend’s point is that in freezing the instant, photography fails to capture the process in the way that building an elaborate creation over time does. It’s a fascinating idea to explore. Alongside that thought, I personally feel that  photography has been given a mythical status, precisely by it’s virtue of capturing ‘reality’ at a decisive and most important instant. Many would say that photography validates the saying that to succeed, one has to be ‘in the right place, at the right time’.

It’s time to go back to reading Susan Sontag. But in the meantime, I rediscovered this unplanned shot that I took from the back of a motorbike on the roads of Saigon about a year ago. In the nanoseconds between my brain sending the signal press to my finger, and the nanoseconds in the camera’s internal workings to act upon that signal, the woman whose colourful outfit had struck me, had moved to an unexpected position omeprazole dr. The photograph shows something I hadn’t seen and which perfectly illustrates ideas of the importance of the instant. Her hat, her neck and hair perfectly frame a little white square: it’s the number plate of a motorbike parked on the pavement behind her. I find that little detail quite amazing.

Sparkle 2013!



I’ve been in Cataluña visiting my gran for her 88th birthday. She doesn’t believe she is 88, and claims to be too busy to brush her teeth! The birthday was a lovely, sunny winter’s day.


DomestiCity: visual research on domestic activities in dense urban areas

This photo essay was featured during Urban Asia Week, on ThisBigCity, a sustainable urbanism research project.

I live in Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city in Vietnam, which last year already had less than half of the green spaces per person than the World Health Organization’s minimal recommended amount. In a city of over 7 million people that has lost half of its greenery in the last decade, each square kilometre is shared by 3,400 inhabitants.

The tropical climate has a monsoon season lasting close to six months, but it is the urban density that has increased flooding. Ranking close to 40th most dense city in the world, HCMC residents have developed some ingenious practicalities to cope with the city’s logistics, such as the ability to momentarily stop one’s motorbike and in only a few seconds put on a raincoat, as soon as the rain starts.

This photo essay explores the ways in which people negotiate the use of their limited living quarters. The available space in or around one’s sleeping quarters is fair game for all domestics. In a country where the majority of the population do not have plentiful wardrobes bursting with fashion consumables, the heat, humidity and pollution make daily laundry washing an essential task. The photos below illustrate the constraints of space and the inventiveness in finding a place to dry clothes.

These terraced houses face what used to be the oldest mosque in Saigon, dating to the late 1800s. The lovely old mosque was demolished and the washing now faces the construction site of a new, monumental and glossy mosque. A huge plastic sheet stops some of the dust from getting to the clothes.

These are the railings of a bridge heavy with traffic. As vehicles whiz by, locals dry their clothes.

If you look up in Saigon, clusters of cables line the sky, framing this colourful apartment window.

The balcony in this lovely old house has been adapted to offer extra space for hanging clothes underneath.

A crane driver uses his work machine as a temporary home. He sleeps in the truck and dries his washing on it.

A lorry driver turns the cabin into a wardrobe when driving from one town to another.

The protruding wires from a destroyed house easily allow for clothes-lines to be set up.

Many houses in this area are being demolished to make way for a new development plan. The residents that haven’t been moved on make use of the extra space to air their bed covers.

A gate to unused private land is a perfect drying rack on a sunny day.

The grounds of this small cemetery have been taken over for domestics by the residents of the surrounding homes.

A makeshift home between a road and the river gets enough breeze to dry clothes quickly.

Riverside shantytown near a high-end residential area.

Roadside washing belongs to the family who operate a motorbike repair business on the side of a wide road.

Houses are built very close to each other or even touching. Tin roofs cluster around one family’s balcony, a luxury space for clothes to air dry.

One of the few (expensive) plots of land that are as yet unbuilt on. This temporary green space is used by neighbours who have no space in their own homes to dry their laundry. Once the construction begins on this patch, they will have to find another place for their washing.

A hairdresser uses their alley to extend their workspace.

Another hairdresser hangs towels on the pavement, which is rarely used for walking on as it is potholed and full of parked motorbikes. People often walk in the road, despite the heavy traffic.

The residents of this shack on a narrow street puts the washing in the road to dry.

Early morning sunshine on the clothes in this alleyway.

Groups of construction workers are employed far from their home villages. They set up huts near the building site. There is little or no privacy. Women are often seen working hard on the construction site in the daytime and doing all the housework afterwards.

All photos © Cristina Nualart 2010-2011


For more info on Climate Change and Urban Planning in Southeast Asia:

Unless otherwise specified, text and images © 2017 Cristina Nualart

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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