Hannah Pierce-Carlson and the Line Between East and West

Good luck guessing whether Hannah's photos are from Vietnam or the American Midwest.

May 14 2013, 7:00am

American-born Hannah Pierce-Carlson lives in Vietnam, where she spends her time teaching English to middle class children and photographing their daily lives. Those daily lives seem to mostly be made up of Dora the Explorer, American-style video game arcades and overweight children. In fact, if it wasn't for the Chinese-language signs popping up everywhere, I'd have a hard time figuring out whether the photos were taken in Asia or some carnival-obsessed hinterland in the American Midwest. Here's what Hannah had to say about her work:  

"I might be caucasian and American, but since 2006, I've been an intermittent member of the ever-growing Asian middle class. I've been teaching English to that generation of Asians who haven't been faced with the same kind of political turmoil as their parents' generation. And while that might sound relatively banal, it just isn't. As a subject, the middle class is diverse, awesome and visually intriguing. They have money for neon, karaoke dance stages at their birthday parties. They can airbrush fantasy scenes on to their car hoods. They can pimp their scooters and afford dazzling pedicures.

"Their children can be crazed and invigorated by video games, and at the same time sedated and fatted by enormous piles of schoolwork and processed junk food. They can face existential identity crises in their 20s. Their families can throw big, sprawling block parties on the street. Some events like these could yield a picture, or not. I want to make strange and beautiful pictures of my community, and I want them to be at once over-the-top and quintessential."

See more work by Hannah here and check out the blog she keeps with her husband here.


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