Book presentation: The Town

Book presentation The Town
June 2, 2022, 6 p.m. | Free admission!
Stefan Canham (Photographer)

As part of the 8th Triennial of Photography, photographer Stefan Canham presents his book The Town, published in late 2021. The book contrasts eclectic new buildings in the mountains of Vietnam with traditional ethnic Mien textiles. The people from the mountain villages around the town of Sapa sell their textiles to mostly foreign tourists. While this opens up new opportunities for them financially, the influx of visitors triggers a building boom. Both factors contribute to the rapid transformation of a rural region that until recently depended on subsistence farming, and may lead to the end of its still lively textile traditions. Canham’s European gaze depicts Mien embroidery as minimalist, serial, abstract geometric work. In contrast, he seems to mine his photos of new buildings springing up all over the Vietnamese province from a quarry of architectural styles. The textiles are both waste products and commodities; each new building is a family home as well as guesthouse, shop and restaurant. The various levels of trade, speculation, and value development represented in the photobook, as well as questions regarding the role of the photographer, collector, and viewer relate to the Triennial theme „Currency”.

Stefan Canham (*1968, born in England) studied Experimental Film at University of Fine Arts Hamburg and later turned to photography. He is best known for Portraits from Above – Hong Kong’s Informal Rooftop Communities, his collaborative project with Canadian architect Rufina Wu, which won the 5th International Bauhaus Award and was shown at Kunsthaus Hamburg in 2009. Together with Nguyen Phuong-Dan, Canham published a book on the history of migration between Germany and Vietnam and has since worked several times in Sapa.

The Town
Stefan Canham, Hamburg 2021
80 pages, 71 photographs
English / German
Supported by Hamburg Ministry of Culture and Media
Distribution: Idea Books, Amsterdam
ISBN 978-3-00-069577-3
45 Euro


Artist talk: Formafantasma
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Moderation: Tulga Beyerle (Director, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg)

Lecture: The Mediated Plant
3 June 2022, 7:30 pm
Teresa Castro (Associate Professor, Film Studies, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle)

Tree discovery tour at Kellinghusenpark: learning about biodiversity
19 June 2022, 11 – 13 pm
with Dr. Katharina Henne, Biologin (Environmental educator)

Lecture: Forest protection and the colonial aftermath
23 June 2022, 7 pm
Jutta Kill (Biologist)

Guided tours
Please register:

Sunday, 5 June 2022, 3 pm
Thursday, 23 June 2022, 6 pm
Thursday, 7 July 2022, 6 pm
Sunday, 17 July 2022, 3 pm