DAN NEPHIN
Associated Press

A pair of combat boots. A wristband woven from boot laces with several bullets dangling. A photo of black servicemen standing outside a makeshift African temple.

The items are part of “Soul Soldiers: African Americans and the Vietnam Era,” a new exhibit at the Sen. John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center that examines the black experience in Vietnam against the domestic social fabric of the times.

Samuel W. Black, curator of the center’s African American Collections, conceived the exhibit, in part because his older brother, Jimmy McNeil, served two years in Vietnam.

Black was 4 years old when his brother was sent to Vietnam. He died in 1971, unrelated to the conflict, and Black said he really never knew what his brother’s experience was.

Black found much had been written about the role of blacks in other wars, particularly the Civil War and World War II, but he found little about blacks in Vietnam.

As he began researching, he found the black experience in Vietnam was also linked to social changes on U.S. soil. The civil rights movement was in full swing. The Black Power movement was growing.

“Two things kind of stood out for me,” he said. “One was the level of activism, political and social activism, on the part of African Americans in Vietnam. That was surprising to me. And the other was the presence of African American women in Vietnam” performing administrative, nursing and other duties.

Black power organizations were active in Vietnam, he said. They weren’t sanctioned, but they were not underground, either.

“What you begin to see through this movement in Vietnam is a connection, not only an extension of the civil rights movement, but also an embracement of the independence movement in Africa,” he said.

One display in the exhibit shows a wooden carving of two fists with broken shackles, with red, black and green stripes at the base – colors associated with African nationhood.

Donald Harris was a young Army artilleryman fighting for Nui Ba Den, a strategic mountain, in 1969. Close to the end of the fighting, he said, a Vietnamese boy approached him with the carving.

“It really caught my eye. I traded him a case of C-rations,” said Harris, 61, who lives in the Pittsburgh suburb of Wilkinsburg.

The carving spoke to Harris about black struggles, but he also saw it as a good luck charm, he said. “When everybody went out that door, we rubbed it, even the white soldiers,” he said.

Harris said he was naive when he went to Vietnam. He hadn’t been out of Pittsburgh before and had never encountered racism until basic training. Once in Vietnam, however, he said he did not experience racism.

“All we cared about was coming back home or taking care of ourselves,” he said. “We were soldiers. That was it in a nutshell.”

The exhibit has nearly 200 artifacts, including photographs, military uniforms, recruitment posters and letters and diaries from servicemen.

Black said he wasn’t interested in doing an exhibit about war.

“I wanted to keep the focus more or less on the social aspects of life and the impact of the war,” he said. “The war is sort of the background which all of this plays out.”

The exhibit, for example, features songs such as James Brown’s “Say it Loud (I’m Black & I’m Proud)” and Marvin Gaye’s 1971 anti-Vietnam war anthem, “What’s Going On.”

The history center is also publishing an accompanying book, “Soul Soldiers,” which will include narratives, essays, poetry, art and photographs.

The Smithsonian Institution, with which the history center is affiliated, is considering having the exhibit travel after its debut in Pittsburgh. The National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum in Chicago, which lent several pieces for the exhibit, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, are also interested in hosting it.

ON THE NET

Sen. John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center: http://www.pghhistory.org

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16:47′ 09/10/2006 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnamese photographers have won 10 out 18 prizes at an international photo contest held by the Japan-based Asian Productivity Organisation (APO).

According to APO website, this year’s photo contest received a total of 841 entries submitted by 292 shutterbugs from 12 countries.

As in previous photo contests, Vietnam led the field with 633 entries and pocketed all major prizes, said APO.

Photographer Hoang Thach Van from Ho Chi Minh City won the gold prize with a work entitled “Good Season”, while two silver prizes were awarded to two other Vietnamese artists, Dang Ngoc Thai and Thanh Thuy.

 
16:47′ 09/10/2006 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnamese photographers have won 10 out 18 prizes at an international photo contest held by the Japan-based Asian Productivity Organisation (APO).

According to APO website, this year’s photo contest received a total of 841 entries submitted by 292 shutterbugs from 12 countries.

As in previous photo contests, Vietnam led the field with 633 entries and pocketed all major prizes, said APO.

Photographer Hoang Thach Van from Ho Chi Minh City won the gold prize with a work entitled “Good Season”, while two silver prizes were awarded to two other Vietnamese artists, Dang Ngoc Thai and Thanh Thuy.

 
13:57′ 01/09/2006 (GMT+7)

Tuoi Tre newspaper and partners concluded their Vietnamese Moment photography competition in HCM City on Wednesday by dishing out cash prizes to several artists as part of the newspaper’s Marketing Vietnam programme aiming to build the country’s international reputation.

Windy: Grace by Tam My won a gold prize at the competition.

The competition’s top prize was awarded to HCM City’s Tran Cao Bao Long, who received VND10mil (US$625) for his photo Than Thien (Friendly) depicting Dao and Mong tourist guides smiling with foreign visitors during a tour in Lao Cai Province’s Sa Pa town.

Two other golden prizes went to the photos Mang Cai Chu Ve Ban (Bringing Books to Villages) and Net Duyen (Grace) by Ngo Dinh Du from Hanoi and Tam My from Binh Thuan Province, respectively.

While Du’s work features two ethnic minority girls carrying books in a field of flowers. My’s photograph captures the smile wind of a young girl wearing a the co traditional Vietnamese ao dai dress and a classic non conical hat.

Five photographs by young and amateur artists in the city and other provinces received VND5mil silver prizes for their portrayal of the country and its people, while 15 additional consolation prizes were also presented.

As part of Marketing Vietnam – a programme that including painting, brand-name, trade and marketing contests – the national competition’s prerequisite was that entry photos introduce Vietnamese culture and lifestyle to foreigners.

Organised by Tuoi Tre and the communication and advertising companies Vietnam Marcom, Future One and Golden Event, Vietnamese Moment received 500 photo entries over four months from many veteran and amateur artists around the country.

To view the photos, visit the website http://www.tiepthihinhanhvietnam.org.vn

(Source: Viet Nam News)


Photographer Le Hong Linh stands first in the Photographic Society of America (PSA)’s list in black and white photos with 52 international prizes in 129 accepts.

This was from a PSA Journal issued in May, 2006.

This is the first time since 1975 a Vietnamese ranks first in the list. In top 25 world photographers in black and white genre of PAS, another Vietnamese photographer, Dao Tien Dat stands 14th with 49 accepts.

Since the beginning of the year, Le Hong Linh has won 18 international prizes at four contests held in the US, India and Spain.  His latest prize has been won at the 73rd Wilmington International Photo Contest in the US which attracted 2,728 entries of 432 artists from 33 countries. All his four photos sent to the contest were awarded prizes, including one gold medal for ‘Time No 7’, one silver medal for ‘Mother and Child’, and two certificates of honour for ‘Summer Day’ and ‘Wave’. In addition, Hong Linh also won another two certificates of honour in colour photo.

From 2002- 2004, photographer Le Hong Linh had been ranked continuously among top ten of PAS with year-on-year increased points.


(23-06-2006)

Heave ho: A photograph of a worker at the Phu My Power Plant, displayed at the exhibition in HCM City. — Photo Christine Berger

HCM CITY — Thirteen Vietnamese and French photographers will display their works featuring mainly Vietnamese images at an exhibition which opens today in HCM City.

The First Photo Exhibition Month, to be held by the French consulate’s Culture Co-operation and Activities Department and the Institute for Cultural Exchange with France (IDECAF), hopes to showcase an overall picture of Vietnamese life.

"The [event] is also a bridge between Vietnamese and French photographers and will promote cultural exchanges between the two countries," Francois Cheval, head of the organising committee, said. While the exhibition will be held at three venues in the city centre, the opening ceremony is slated for the Fine Arts Museum on Pho Duc Chinh Street in District 1.

Hoang Kim Dang, Lam Duc Hien, and Antoine d’Agata will display more than 21 portrait photos featuring mainly Vietnamese people from June 23 to July 7.

Kim Dang’s photos are expected to open a window to the past. Titled Nguoi Linh (Vietnamese Soldier), they are a tribute to the brave Vietnamese soldier and an appreciation of the nation’s aspiration for freedom.

Anne Marie Filaire, Nicolas Pascarel, Christian Berger, Bui Huu Phuoc, and Phillippe Bordas will exhibit photos featuring urban life in Viet Nam, especially in major cities like HCM City.

Ange Leccia will present his photos – Storms, Sea, Unreason of Louvre Museum, and the Sun – through a video projector on a big screen from June 23 to July 16.

At the opening ceremony, the organisers will exhibit some photos of France’s Nicephore Niepce Museum on a big screen by using interactive 3D.

At another venue, HCM City’s War Remnants Museum on Vo Van Tan Street, an exhibition of Vietnamese-French photographer Liz Nguyen’s photos will be on display from June 24 to July 16.

There will be 11 photos under the title Surface. Widely travelled, she used her lens all the while to record her adventures. Her focus during her travel in Viet Nam was the great misery during the wars.

The last venue is IDECAF on Thai Van Lung Street which will display works by French photographers like Alain Leloup, Christian Milovanoff and Gael Pollin from June 23 to July 16.

They illuminate Vietnamese life, especially Alain Leloup’s photo records of living with a family in an urban setting like HCM City.

The organisers will also host two seminars on photographic art tomorrow and July 27 at IDECAF in which Xuan Khanh, Trung Nam, Alain Leloup, Ange Leccia, and Gael Pollin will participate. — VNS

The Japanese Photographers Association (JPA) will hold an exhibition of photos capturing Vietnam’s landscape, culture and its people in Tokyo early next month.

The month-long exhibition will feature selected photos taken by Vietnamese photographers from many parts of the country.

Three Vietnamese photographers will attend the exhibition at the invitation of the organizer.

Ba Han of Ho Chi Minh City will showcase his photo collection Thoi Tho Au (Childhood), while Nguyen Hoai Linh of Hanoi will display photographs capturing daily life in the capital city of Vietnam.

Do Dien Khanh will join the exhibition with a collection of photos featuring the scenery and people of Vietnam’s central region.

The JPA will also hold many exhibition rooms in Tokyo displaying works by members of the Hue Photographers Club in central Thua Thien-Hue province and women’s photographic club of Hai Au in HCMC. Since 1996, JPA has organized annual photo exhibitions of works by photographers from Japan and other countries.

Vietnam was selected as the invitee for this year’s event, which marks JPA’s 144th anniversary.

Reported by Quang Thi – Translated by Thu Thuy