I’ve always liked black-and-white (B&W) photography because of its visual tension and how it harkens back to the days when you didn’t have a choice in the matter. My memory tells me that such filmic representations of life offered some security in viewing the world because B&W photographs were so stark and honest in their appearance. My eyes tended to latch on to the subjects and settings in B&W photography more readily. They spoke to me louder and clearer. Shades of dark and light made me think of spectral phantoms appearing right before me. Shadows coming out of the shadows, so to speak.
Two years before the United States normalized relations with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1995, Mr. Erickson traveled to the country of his birth and took photograph after photograph. I can only guess how Erickson felt traveling around the country where his origins reside. I have no idea what his intentions were each time he clicked the button to bring his camera into motion in order to seize the exact moment between him and his subjects. All that there remains of that unique moment in time, in which Erickson found himself, are the photographs he collected between two covers and called OTHER STREETS. His photos are windows onto a land and a people that much of the world has been telling stories about, but that few truly know and understand.
When you take the time to peer deeply into Erickson’s photographs, they reflect a society and a culture slowly healing from decades of war but more than ready to transition into a future that can be celebrated, to which they can aspire. I couldn’t help but notice that many of the photographs are of boys, or young men, at play or at work. Knowing his own story could have turned on a dime at the time of his adoption to the U.S., I think of Erickson imagining how his own life could have turned out if someone in his family or neighborhood had made the fateful decision to keep him in Vietnam and raise him to be one of the very men he had photographed 20 years later as an American citizen. I’ve found that each time I take a long look into these subjects’ eyes and the ecosphere they inhabit my wonderment comes to the fore and some part of me starts to meld with their images. Thus proves the singular power of Erickson’s photography.
This is all to say that OTHER STREETS is a project in retrieval, renewal and remembrance. If you want to take a glimpse into the life of a country, and not a war, then Mr. Erickson’s photo book will lead you there. All you have to do is stand and observe.
- Publisher: Independently published (12 April 2020)
- Language: English
- ISBN-13: 979-8636555155
- ASIN: B087FJD9JJ
- Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 0.6 x 27.9 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 331 g
- Customer Reviews: 9 customer ratings