Kunststiftung K52, Berlin

Galerie der Kunststiftung K52 | Joachimstraße 17 / Ecke Auguststraße
10117 Berlin

plan route show map

artist / participant

press release

Galerie der Kunststiftung K52 | Opening on Friday, 30. 12. 2018 | 19:00 - 21:00 Nicolaus Schmidt presents his book VIET DUC and leads through the exhibition

Exhibition 1. 12. 2018 - 5. 1. 2019

In 2017 the Berlin photographer and historian Nicolaus Schmidt was invited by the German Embassy Hanoi to realize a photo project about the German-Vietnamese cooperation in Vietnam. More than one hundred people were photographed with the support of the German Embassy and the German Consulate General. On the basis of these photographs and many interviews, Nicolaus Schmidt published the book "Việt Đức - Deutsch-vietnamesische Biografien als Spiegel der Geschichte" (Việt Đức - German-Vietnamese Biographies: A Reflection of History). The book points out many strands of German-Vietnamese relations since the beginning of the 1950s.

Surprisingly, the German-German and inner-Vietnamese divisions during the Cold War contributed to today's broad relationship between the two countries. First North Vietnamese children were sent to a boarding school in the GDR from 1954, the "Moritzburger". In West Germany, on the other hand, young people from South Vietnam studied, war-injured children from South Vietnam were flown out to West Germany for treatment, later boat people were admitted, while in the GDR in the years up to 1989 more than one hundred thousand contract workers from Vietnam worked. Both the exodus of the boatpeople and the deployment of the contract workers to the GDR were a consequence of the orhodox-communist policy in Vietnam between 1976 and 1986.

Nicolaus Schmidt met people from all sectors of life in Vietnam, including former boat people who are now successful businessmen in Vietnam. In his book, South Vietnamese biographies stand on an equal footing with North Vietnamese biographies, which is a novelty in Vietnam and not a matter of course. Vietnam as a state is still a socialist country and is led by the Communist Party of Vietnam. At the same time, twenty years after Doi Moi, the country is experiencing an almost boundless capitalist development. Nicolaus Schmidt introduces people who help organize this process and others who see it critically. Well-known personalities include Dr. Thai-Lai Pham, CEO of Siemens Vietnam, and Vo Quang Hue, former director of Bosch Vietnam, who now holds a leading position in the ambitious Vietnamese car project Vinfast. A completely different social position is held by a group of paraplegic people who were treated as war-injured children in Germany but then had to return to Vietnam*. Among the people portrayed are Germans who work in Vietnam in the fields of business, science, education and culture.

"I'm particularly pleased that the book and the exhibitions* in Vietnam were so well received. Many of my interview partners have stressed the importance of the fact that, for the first time in Vietnam, South Vietnamese biographies stand on an equal footing with North Vietnamese ones.

Nicolaus Schmidt, born in Arnis, studied in Hamburg at the HfbK and the University and exhibited in New York, New Delhi, Berlin, Basel, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other cities. After public installations and paintings, photography has been the focus of his work for fifteen years. Nicolaus Schmidt has published six books to date. The book "Viet Duc, German-Vietnamese Biographies: A Reflection of History" was published in September by Kerber Verlag and brought to Vietnam by the German Embassy in Hanoi. He lives and works in Berlin. Nicolaus Schmidt had protested against the Vietnam War as a student. In the 1980s he was chairman of terre des hommes Deutschland (tdh) and at that time involved in decisions on important tdh projects in Vietnam. For him, the book is also a kind of biographical reappraisal of earlier political engagements, a reflection of the 1968 era, in which he focusses on the political realities in Vietnam that had not been seen in the time of anti-war protests.

The book "Việt Đức - German-Vietnamese Biographies: A Reflection of History" is published by Kerber Verlag: https://www.kerberverlag.com/de/vi-t-d-c.html

* In October 2018, photographs from the Vietnam cycle were shown in the German House Ho-Chi-Minh-City. There is currently an open-air exhibition in Hanoi with 28 large-format pictures (German Embassy Hanoi, November and December 2018). At the German Embassy Festival on November 2 and 3, Nicolaus Schmidt presented his book in a talk on a stage in the center of Hanoi.