Vietnam, through an Asheville photographer’s eyes

Asheville photographer Paul Jackson wants to take you on a trip to Vietnam, a journey of the urban and rural, the war-ravaged and the modern-day, the public and personal.

The trip is virtual — a tour through photographs and video that Jackson shot during a six-week expedition that began Dec. 30 in Saigon. Jackson shot 5,000 to 7,000 still images that he eventually whittled down to about 300 for his 30-minute presentation. The documentary project, which mixes his still photos with video clips, is set to the music of British musician Freeform and parts of his Audiotourism album.

“With this, I’m mostly trying to illustrate modern-day Vietnam” — its history, culture, rural villages and tourist towns, Jackson says of his presentation, Vietnam: A Second Glance. His work is about exploring the line between photojournalism and fine art, he says, while learning something about himself.

During his excursion, Jackson spent time shooting most of his photos in Saigon from the back of a scooter. “It shows speed as a theme, and it’s the way a lot of people experience the city,” he says. From there, he donated photography and marketing help to the Vietnam Relief Effort for a few weeks. In other adventures, Jackson explored Hanoi and the Art Vietnam Gallery, where he observed a Buddhist prayer wheel ceremony; took off for Sapa, a picturesque village near the Chinese border in northern Vietnam; and trekked 466 miles up the country’s east coast with a cousin to reach the village of Loc Khanh, where his mother was born. There, he celebrated Tet, the Eastern New Year, with aunts and uncles and “lots of cousins.”

Jackson first ventured to Vietnam with his mother in 2005. He called the show he produced from that visit Vietnam: More than War. Jackson, of Monty Tran Photography in Asheville, says he’s been influenced by the work of a number of famous photographers, from Henri Cartier-Bresson and Werner Bischof to Jay Maisel and Seth Resnick.

“I try to focus more on reacting to my environment and what I’m trying to say with my image, and that can be done with any camera,” he says.

BoBo Gallery on Lexington Avenue will host Jackson’s 30-minute presentation from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday. The event is open to the public and will include a question-and-answer session with Jackson after the show.

— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor

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