L’HEBDO and CHOÉ
Early 1995, we received a letter, via post office, from the Editorial of L’HEBDO in Switzerland. L’HEBDO asked if we could arrange an interview for its reporters with CHOÉ, the most famous Vietnamese political cartoonist of Saigon before 1975, and take a few photos of CHOÉ with some of his recent artistic works.
CHOÉ agreed with the interview, to be conducted at LAO ĐỘNG (Workers) News Paper Office, where he was collaborating. As to the photos, CHOÉ proposed they would be taken at TỰ DO (Liberty) ART GALLERY, where nearly all of his recent artistic works had been conserved since 1988, after he was released, for the second time, from re-educational camp.
We replied to L’HEBDO on behalf of CHOÉ. L’HEBDO sent us a letter, setting 2 appointments: A female reporter would meet and interview CHOÉ at the LAO ĐỘNG (Workers) News Paper Office in the morning of 24-4-1995, and a male photographer would meet CHOÉ to take photos at TỰ DO (Liberty) ART GALLERY at 09:00 AM on 25-4-1995. Emails were not available at that time. All correspondences were through post office. A letter from/to Switzerland would take 7-10 days.
Right at 09:00 AM on April 25, the photographer arrived and met CHOÉ at TỰ DO ART GALLERY. He perused all of CHOÉ's works; then decided upon "TWO FRIENDS". This painting described two wounded veterans of two sides of the war, one blind, one lame, helping each-other to go around begging. The painting was displayed at a roadside easel just in front of TỰ DO ART GALLERY. CHOÉ sat by the side of his work, trying numerous positions for his photo shot. The photographer worked continuously from 09:00 AM to 02:00 PM; he took 5 rolls of films. Digital camera was not available at that time.
|Choe - TWO FRIENDS - oil on canvas - 100cm x 100cm|
After everything had been done, the photographer prepared his belongings.
"Do you take any more photographs related to April 30?" I asked.
"No", he replied. "I've just arrived yesterday evening. My work is done by now. I'll go straight to the airport, and take the flight for Hongkong at 07:00 PM this evening".
"So, you come only for taking those few photos?" I wondered.
"Yes. I only take photos for this article on CHOÉ".
"How many photos would you use for?"
"Just one, or two, may be".
In reality, the Editorial of L’HEBDO used only one photo for the article about CHOÉ, one of six representative figures of Vietnam for the day of April 30, 1995.