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The colorful lady in many time and space in Hanoi, Saigon (Vietnam)

Author Andersen (Denmark) wrote the fairy tale “Who, What, Where”, while in Vietnam there is a very popular proverb “The robe does not make the monk”.

The figure in the photo is Ph.D Ha Thanh Van, a researcher in the intersections and transformations of various cultures. She breaks free from the mold of a typical researcher by adopting unconventional clothing and playfully posing in public places, even in serious settings. Her outfits and accessories sometimes harmonize, and at other times contrast with the context in terms of colors, meanings, or dressing norms. She aims to bring joy to herself and inspire those around her, especially after the world has endured much pain and loss during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ha Thanh Van in a modernize Vietnamese ao dai hugs two stuffed animals at the wall of an ancient apartment in Hanoi. Van loves stuffed animals and confides that people who love stuffed animals are sensitive, lonely and vulnerable people. at an old communal wall in Hanoi. Van loves stuffed animals and narrates that people who love stuffed animals are sensitive, lonely and vulnerable people.

Looking at her calm expression, sometimes hidden behind dark glasses, viewers become curious and question the true identity of a person always concealed beneath different attires, like layers of external shells. Does fashion hold any significance in reinforcing or diminishing faith and the value of life? Or does it merely blind people in a consumerist society?

A series of questions are raised, ultimately circling back to eternal human inquiries, yet each person has a different interpretation: Who are we, where do we come from, where are we heading, and what is the true essence of humanity? Fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent once said, “Over the years, I have come to understand that the importance of an outfit lies in the woman who will wear it”. Perhaps her choice of attire in public places and cultural venues is her way of expressing her life’s message and honoring cultural diversity.

Reading books is not only a passion but also a responsibility, a duty within the profession of Van. However, she transforms reading into joy, innovation, or even a fashion statement to convey the message that even the seemingly dry research work can be enjoyable, vibrant, and liberating. She can read books anywhere, in any situation, just like American horror novelist Stephen King once said, “Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
Van in a pink Western-style dress and her favorite fashion items. Behind her is a traditional Chinese wedding dress that has been in design for thousands of years. Van loves taking selfies and every day she posts photos on social networks, creating interaction with viewers.
Van in the traditional attire of Nhat Binh, the court dress of the Nguyen dynasty (1802-1945), worn during solemn ceremonies by queens and princesses of the Nguyen dynasty, was walking on the old streets of Hanoi (Vietnam) before the curious eyes of passersby.
Van in the court dress of the Nguyen dynasty (1802-1945), worn during solemn ceremonies by queens and princesses of the Nguyen dynasty. The rooster holding a red rose symbolizes the prosperity and abundance of the Vietnamese people, often placed on ancestral altars during significant occasions throughout the year. All of this is set against the backdrop of a marketplace catering to the wealthy in the thousand-year-old capital of Hanoi.
Van wore a modernize Chinese dress in a Western style, posing in front of an ancient Chinese temple in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City, home to the largest number of Chinese people living in Vietnam.
Van in a modernize Vietnamese ao dai in style of a Western evening dress is praying in a hundred-year-old ancient church in a northern province, Vietnam. Behind her is the robot cat Doeramon as a symbol of Japanese animation culture.
Van in traditional Vietnamese ao dai is standing next to Long Bien bridge, a bridge over 120 years old built by the French in Vietnam from 1898 to 1902. The bridge spans the Red River as a symbol of Vietnam. Hanoi capital is over 1000 years old.
A scene reminiscent of the past, with an old letter box and a faded wall. Van in a colorful outfit captivates the viewers’ gaze as she admires her stylish wallet placed on an antique scale, seemingly challenging the onlookers with her purpose.
The diversity in life here lies in the parallel existence of the old and the new, encompassing time and space within a unified entity known as the “spacetime”.
Every trip abroad, Van brings two to three suitcases full of belongings. For her, accessories are very important in creating interaction with people and the environment. However, when I went to Van’s hotel and asked her what she liked to hold the most. She chose potted green plants to decorate the room. Because she likes Goethe’s saying “Theory is gray, but the tree of life is forever green”.
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Viet Van Tran

Viet Van Tran was born 1971 in Ha Noi, Viet Nam and received a Cultural Bachelor degree from Ha Noi Cultural University in 1996.… More »

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