Arts • 06 Jan, 2017
'PRECIOUS HERITAGE' GALLERY MUSEUM BY RéHAHN OPENS IN HOI AN
French Photographer Now Has His Own Exhibition Space
We love sharing good news. When AnyArena caught up with French photographer Réhahn at a charity event in November last year, he was getting excited about 2017. “I think it will be a very special year,” he told us, “a lot of things will happen.”
Before it ever reached midnight last Saturday though, his augury had already begun to materialise. On December 29 - after a two week delay caused by Hoi An’s propensity to flood - Réhahn opened his own art gallery museum on Phan Boi Chau - The Precious Heritage Collection - a 250 square-metre display of artefacts and photos collected from five years of living in Vietnam.
“I bought an old house in the centre of Hoi An, built by the French,” Réhahn told us - the serendipity of this not lost on him either - “I’m renovating it and I will open a gallery museum. It will not be an ethnic museum as people might think, but a medium of my exploration of Vietnam.” It's now open with English, French and Vietnamese explanations of what you might call his odyssey here - Réhahn estimates that he's covered around 50,000km in his quest to portray the Vietnamese people.
Looking back on his success since the release of his first photo book about Vietnam in 2014, ‘Mosaic of Contrasts’, Réhahn told AnyArena that another turning point had came on March 8 last year, when his photograph ‘Hidden Smile’ was hung permanently in the Woman’s Museum in Hanoi on International Woman’s Day. (That it was done in the presence of its' subject, Madame Xong, is also quite remarkable).
The resulting press has once again catalyzed his career he explained, with the Ministry of Culture keen to capitalise on Réhahn's status as an unofficial ambassador for tourism. Already making good on the promise of an outdoor exhibition in his adopted hometown of Hoi An last year, a similar public display of 100 of his photo’s is set to happen around Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi in 2017, a first for any artist.
In addition, the Frenchman is waiting to be given the ‘keys to the country’ so to speak, official access to the ten remaining ethnic minorities who live on restricted land that he is yet to photograph - another first for any foreigner.
Madame Xong looks at 'The Hidden Smile' in Rehahn's new Hoi An gallery.
The Precious Heritage Art Gallery Museum is at 26 Phan Boi Chau in Hoi An. Entry is Free.
Words by Jon Aspin