«Last summer, the crops were washed away with the floods.
This summer, the crops wither with a burning drought.»
MAI CHÂU, HÒA BÌNH, VIET NAM, 2017-202?
MAGIC RICE PADDIES OF VIET NAM
"In front of us, farmers with conical straw hats work a field of vibrant green crops, a bicycle lies in the foreground, the landscape is made to take beautiful pictures." These types of descriptions are usually the first approach of travelers or tourists to remote regions. The geographical and cultural distance usually demands some kind of great trip, full of efforts and adventures. After the trip, the prize is the landscape and the postcard. So-called "global travelers" increasingly move away from the beaten track of mainstream tourism with the aim of understanding "real life" in the places they visit, touring the favelas of Brazil, spending a night in the Sahel desert, or exploring by motorcycle a valley of Southeast Asia with photogenic rice fields.
In this installation, I examine the operation of translation and erasure that comes with the process of the adventure trip (also called by its critics "poverty tourism"), where a productive and social system becomes an exotic land and a trophy for social networks. In the project I seek to exhibit the multiple narratives that the same landscape can provoke in an exploration of the mountainous North of the Mai Chau region (Viet Nam), either that of the "magic rice fields, stuck in an immemorial past", or that of the struggles of informal agricultural workers who deal with the invisible consequences of the global climate crisis and the growing demand for exotic rice species. With the help of a Vietnamese family doctor and public health expert, I seek to challenge the bucolic postcard of rice fields and draw attention to the intersection between this system of food production, mass tourism and the fetishization of rurality.