The idea for this work began with research into the origins of early studio photography, the use of natural daylight in an interior space and into long-exposure portraits.
The series was produced in a former State-owned and vacant pharmaceutical factory in Hanoi, Vietnam – the rough interior here repurposed into a daylight studio whose sole source of illumination was a large, north-facing window permitting only a soft, indirect light throughout the course of the day. Embracing a contemporary construct of a Victorian-era studio, the sitters for these portraits range from artists, authors and translator, ex-patriots, poets, tourists, a gangster, a curator, mothers, gays, an advocate for the disabled, musicians, independent journalist, lesbians, a surfer, filmmakers, students and performance artists. Without identification, they exist equally – in relation to one another, in relation to the tightly controlled political environment they live within, to the photographer who is present in each frame, in relation to the history of image making and to the light. The exposure times are between15 and 20 seconds long.
In late December 2013, the city authorities denied access to the former factory to all who had been using it as either place of business, home or art space and within a week, the entire site was vacated. Only the light is still able to get in.