‘Da Nang: GREEN City’, 3rd book commission in Vietnam, 21.07 – 30.08.15

Another photo book - the last one from a series of three - is in the planning. Soon I will be heading to Vietnam again, this time to the centre of the country.

The focus will be on Da Nang, Hoi An and Hue as the 3 major coastal towns. Like in the previous books, I will explore how people use their personal space, either at work or in their homes.

The book is partly supported by 'Goethe Institute Hanoi' and is going to be published by the beginning of 2016. Watch this space for further announcements...

Project: ‘Made in Senegal', Artist Resdency, 15.01 – 16.02.15

More than a year after my productive time in Central Vietnam, I am returning to my project on local small scale 'food production'. This time I am invited for a further Artist Residency at Waaw in Saint-Louis in Senegal.

Intention of the project: we often forget how labor intensive it is to produce what we eat. Especially in the Western world the connection between food and nature seems to get lost. Therefore I am going to visit fisherman and small-scale farmers as well as family run production businesses in the region around Saint Louis. For the duration of 3 weeks I will take portraits of people with their products in order to re-establish a relationship with the origin of food provisions.

Waaw is an artists' residence, which aims to promote Senegalese and African culture and to facilitate cultural exchange by bringing people together for work or study. The main focus is on art and design. Waaw provides a work base and accommodation for creative people seeking inspiration in the local environment and culture.

My time in Saint-Louis starts on 16th January and I am working towards an exhibition, which opens mid February. The exhibition is going to feature a series of portraits, featuring people who are physically involved with growing or producing Senegalese food including fishing or life stock keeping. Next to the local portraits I will also exhibit some of the images, which I created in Vietnam in 2013.

Further information will follow in time...

'Hà Nội: CAPITAL CITY', 2nd book commission in Vietnam

Following my photo book commission in Vietnam 2013 (TP. HCM Mega City).  I had the pleasure to be called again for another photo book, this time in Ha Noi.

In 3 weeks I photographed over 40 individual people and families in their homes or at work and asked them about their personal relationship to Ha Noi. The outcome is forming one chapter in this book, which otherwise documents the recent developments of the historical Capital City in Vietnam.

For my chapter ('The people of Hanoi') I wanted to take a closer look behind the facade and explore how people use their personal space. This gave me the opportunity to gather a fascinating insight into homes and workplaces from rich to poor, from younger to older generations and from migrants to those who lived here all their lives and helped to shape this city.

The book is sponsored and supported by Goethe Institute Hanoi and will be published beginning of 2015. More information will follow in time.

'TP. Hà Nội Capital City', 2nd book commission in Vietnam, 21.09 - 02.11.14

It seems only a short while ago that I spent some highly fruitful time in Vietnam. Perhaps you remember; next to my artist residency I also I had a commission for a chapter in a photo book in Ho Chi Minh City.

Well, I am pleased to announce that I have been invited back. This time I will be working on a photo book in Hanoi, sponsored by 'Goethe Institute' in Vietnam. Once again I will be taking a closer look behind the facade and explore how people use their personal space... The book will be published by the end of this year (wait for further announcements).

Project: 'Food in Vietnam', Artist Residency, 01.10 – 30.11.13

Having been invited by the New Space Arts Foundation (NSAF) in Hue, Central Vietnam, I am currently working in an Artist Residency and slowly making progress with a series of images on 'food production'. 

NSAF is run by twin brothers Thanh & Hai, who are bringing together national and international artist in order to exchange work practices across all fields of creative expressions. 

My time in Hue started on 1st October and I am working towards an exhibition, which opens on 20 November 2013. The exhibition will feature a series of portraits, featuring people who are physically involved with growing or producing Vietnamese food including fishing or life stock keeping (example on the left: 'peanut farmer').

We often forget how labor intensive it is to produce what we eat. Especially in the Western world the connection between food and nature seems to get lost. Therefore I visited small-scale farmers and family run production businesses and took portraits of people with their products in order to reestablish a relationship with the origin of food provisions.

Link for viewing a selection of the images: 'Made in Vietnam - Farmers'

'Journey through Viet Nam': On Thypoons and Rubbish Collections

In November 2012 Astrid Schulz accompanied two different Non-Government Organizations* (NGO) to rural areas of Viet Nam and documented people's living circumstances. During this insightful journey, reports and risk assessment have been written and success stories documented after aid has been received. Both NGO’s are mainly interested in encouraging individuals in finding solutions for themselves and give support, advice and micro loans to ease their problems.

Viet Nam is currently emerging as one of Asia’s powerful countries, which brings not only social and economic changes, but also many challenges. Like many other countries in this region, Viet Nam is experiencing an increase of climate change issues such as rising seawater. According to the historical disaster database, provinces like Quang Binh and Binh Dinh in Central Vietnam have an average 2.5 disasters per year, usually flash floods caused by heavy rainfall and destruction trough typhoons.

Another problem is caused by the influx of consumerism, which is leading to uncontrolled waste treatment and consequently pollution of the environment. Even though the government has begun to recognize these problems, a lot of help is generated by various NGOs.

*The organizations Astrid was commissioned by are 'Challenge to Change' and 'ENDA Viet Nam'. 

Journey to Serbia and Montenegro, April 2010

A new task is waiting to be explored: the exiting shift from still images into moving images.

Astrid was invited to a road trip from Serbia to Montenegro in order to document the countries current development. Both countries have been through rapid changes in the last 30 years: from Tito’s Yugoslavia and socialism to economical decline under Milosevic; from a brutal cycle of war to separation into 6 republics. Many things have progressed within the last 10 years; economy is slowly recovering and the two countries are looking towards the European Union. They are also trying to get themselves back on the map for sought-after tourist destinations.

With plenty of stills and film material Astrid is now working on a documentary project about this journey. Watch this space for further announcements on the completed movie…

Journey to Cambodia 11 February - 23 March 2008

A project on French colonial and modernist 1960's architecture brought Astrid to Cambodia. The main focus was on Battambang, Cambodia’s third largest city, which still has a large number of colonial buildings in its centre. However, many are under tread to be modernised or even demolished.
A current building and foreign investment boom has raised awareness to save cultural heritage. Cambodia’s cities and towns are rather sleepy and don’t yet compete with other South - East Asian cities. On the other hand, the facades of local streets are adopting western characteristics such as large billboards, concrete and glass as building materials and rising floor levels.

The German Development Service (DED) is currently supporting the city of Battambang , which is working on a co-operational project on city planning and structural improvements. Inspired by the given information Astrid spend some additional time photographed buildings all over Cambodia and found them to be evidential of recent history.

Impermanent Utopia
(A Cambodian tale of constant change and instability)

What comes to mind when you think of Cambodia? Is it Angkor Wat’s ancient civilization or the Khmer Rouge as just another human made disaster, based on idealistic ideas? Interestingly enough we can never avoid finding silent signs of ‘long time gone’ stories. Weather or not we are able to understand them is another question. It may just be a heap of stones, a pile of rubble perhaps, telling us some facts. Is it the stones that are so interesting or is it the people who left them behind?

Image archive link: Kep - by the beach

Journey to Venice December 2007

Sleeping traveller at Treviso airportTreviso Dormitory

There wasn’t much to do in Venice when I visited last year… It all started well on the day of arrival, although I only had one hour before the sun went down to get a glimpse of the city’s famous beauty.
Alas, the weather changed the following morning...

Image archive for Treviso Dormitory

Journey to Israel 2006

giraffe_in_Qualqilia zoo
In April 2006 Astrid was commissioned to document the annual Universal Peace Conference in Jerusalem. She extended the journey for a documentary project on zoos in Israel as well as the Palestinian territories. One story attracted her in particular: the isolated zoo in Qalqilya, a small town in the West Bank, which is totally enclosed by the separation wall.

Image archive for Qalqilya Zoo, Palestinian Territory

Playground in JaffaOther observations on living conditions are photographed in the different areas Astrid encountered.

Image archive for Seperation Wall at Al Ezaria, East Jerusalem
Image archive for Elay Sinai Camp, Jewish Settlers after Disengagement, 2006
Image archive for Impressions from Jerusalem

Jaffa (Oranges or what?)

Jaffa is beautiful, so I was told, romantic and really old. So when I arrived I expected to see the flavour of its Palestinian history. Indeed, the first impression after I got out of the car in at night matched my expectations: warm air coming from the sea, the scent of a hookah across the pavement and the bustling atmosphere at Jaffa’s centre near the clock tower. Promising, I thought...

Image archive for Jaffa, Tel Aviv

Journey to Nepal 2005

kitchen tools in Nepal
Commissioned by the charity organisation ROKPA International Astrid spend one month in Kathmandu’s Tibetan Quarter.
Working with ROKPA included documenting the soup-kitchen and medical services for the countless beggars around the stupa.
Aid is only available during the harsh wintertime and desperately needed. However, ROCKPA also established a children's home and a training program for single mothers.

Fascinated by the Buddhist culture Astrid visited monasteries in Boudhanath’s neighbourhood and spend one week in a nunnery on the Sivapuri Mountain. Nagi Gompa is the second largest Buddhist nunnery and offers a interesting insight into the richness of Tibetan believes.

Other topics include a Nepalese hospital and a local school.

Journey to Scotland 2004

Tibetan Monastery in Scotland
It was not the Scottish landscape that attracted Astrid to visit Dumfriesshire, it was a Tibetan Monastery, hidden in the middle of nowhere, on the rainiest spot in the UK. Kagyu Sanye Ling was founded in 1967, its name means ‘place beyond imagination’. Through Dr Akong Tulku Rinpoche’s (co-founder) vision and guidance, a magnificent temple in traditional Tibetan design was erected and opened its door in 1988. The temple and most other buildings, which followed were build entirely by volunteers and funded through donations. Today the monastery is a flourishing centre preserving Tibetan Buddhism, arts, medicine and culture. Buddhist teachings of highest standards, weekend courses, retreats and special events are held throughout the year. Kagyu Samye Ling is constantly growing and the building work is still ongoing. Yet it is an oasis of peace and wisdom, aiming to benefit all beings far beyond the area where it is placed.

Image archive for Kagyu Samye Ling, Monastery
Image archive for Kagyu Samye Ling, Artwork
Image archive for Kagyu Samye Ling, People and Work