At night, the streetlight embraces its surroundings, touches the walls, then slowly evaporates into the void, leaving you with nothing to hold on to. A mundane alley during daylight hours becomes unrecognisable, though strangely familiar. The streetlight becomes a spot of hope in the middle of the night.

 

Hanoi has been just that for me. At a time where I could not stand to be where I was anymore, I came to Hanoi, where everything was unknown, foreign but strangely familiar. Hanoi made sense to me, I needed to be here.

 

These images might create angst and uneasiness, because it might feel like the darkness is getting to you. They are a representation of the Freudian uncanny, something familiar yet strange, incongruous, creating a conflict with your experience. I strive for the uncanny; to me, they are peaceful and serene. It’s like a hypnotic eternity that time seems to have abandoned into a heavy silence.

 

When I am asked about why I fell in love with this Hanoi, my answer is always the same; for its light. It’s a photographer’s love story. Light in Hanoi moves me. Foggy mornings, dawn in summer time, or deep in the night, when I see these types of lights, I know I am where I belong.

 

Driving at night in Hanoi is when I feel the most free, the happiest. Nobody is on the road. I own it, and in the darkness, I see so many possibilities.

Julie Vola

Julie Vola was born and raised in Marseille, South of France. One fine day she decided to quit her job to travel for three months in Vietnam. She arrived in Hanoi… and as happens all too frequently, never left. Now a staff photographer at Word Vietnam, she has also discovered she can write.

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