Autrefois, Maison Privee.
Photographs by Bill Burke. Text by Bernard all and Prince Sirik Matak.
powerHouse Books, New York, 2003. 216 pp., 98 quadratone illustrations, 13½x11½".
Bill Burke has made annual trips to Indochina since 1982, a region that has both horrified and fascinated his generation. Earlier volumes of Burke's photography, such as I Want to Take Picture and Mine Fields, have focused on the general populace and post-war cultures of both rural and urban Vietnam and Cambodia. He is interested in the flotsam and jetsam of lands familiar to most of us in name only. All of the artistic strength he has gathered over the years reveals itself in full force in this powerful new book that focuses on the architectural heritage of those same countries. A textured approach informs his images; Burke uses a thick black pen to write on his photographic prints, all made using Polaroid Type 55 film, with all of its method-soaked edges and torn emulsion visible. The remnants of French colonialism, the British occupation, and the American War, as it is known in Vietnam, are all there. Burke's survey of buildings and street corners, still rural and urban and organized by his own internal logic, gives the word 'Vietnam' a substance beyond the word 'war'.
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