Dong Ha in Quang Tri province is the city that Danish photographer and documentary maker, Adam Jacobi, once called his Vietnam home. A former humanitarian aid worker based in places as far flung as Sudan, Afghanistan and Geneva, Adam quit his regular job a few years ago to follow his dream.
“They [humanitarian organisations] do a lot of fantastic work,” he explains, “but they’re also very bureaucratic. I realised that if I wanted a shot at developing my creative side, I had to roam free. Photography is a tool for me to reach into a moment and try to pull out the significance of that exact time and place.”
He has since spent his time trying to document people living on the edge of society, people who he believes are discriminated against just because of who they are.
“Rights are for everyone,” says Adam. “But looking at the world, that is an illusion. Poor people who have to struggle every day just to get food on their table have a human resilience that is hard to fathom.”
He recalls a photographic story he shot of an Afghan carpet maker living in Iran.
“He had been forced to flee the Russians and was now seen as a skilled carpet man, respected for his abilities while also looked down upon because he was Afghan. Everyone has a story, but very few people lift the rock and try to search for them.”
A Bowl of Bun Bo
It is the search for these stories that led Adam to creating his photo essay, Eating Noodles. While not focused this time on people living on the edge of society, Adam is showing how the love of food can break down cultural barriers. As he says, “one thing all humans have in common is that we have to eat. In fact most of us love to eat.”
“Eating noodles is a time when you cannot hide behind a mask,” he explains. “Food brings us together, no matter who we are.”
Shot over a few weeks with a Canon 5D Mark II, the photos are taken at a family-owned bun bo eatery in Dong Ha, a joint owned by a local friend, Ms. Yen. During this period, despite his lack of Vietnamese, Adam not only got to know Yen and her family, but many of the restaurant’s customers, all over a bowl of noodles.
What he has produced shows everyday people, in fact humanity, at its most basic: eating. It also draws on this country’s love of noodles.
To see more of Adam’s work click on instagram.com/adam.jacobi or adam-jacobi.com. Adam is presently working on a documentary film about Vietnamese war veterans and the legacy of war
Photos by Adam Jacobi