Hanoi – the early stages of a Western city in Southeast Asia


Villa 49 Trần Hưng Đạo, Hoàn Kiếm, Hà Nội


22.04.2023 – 15.06.2023

* Free entrance


22.04.2023 | 10h00 – 12h00

Hoàng Phương, Philippe Le Failler & Emmanuel Cerise


Hanoi is a city that was strongly influenced by French culture during the colonial period. At the beginning of the 20th century, this influence, desired and implemented by the colonial administration, was suffered by the Vietnamese population, which also still managed to retain some of its own way of life. 

The autochromes, made by Léon Busy between 1914 and 1915, are the first colour photographs of Hanoi. This technique, which predates colour film (introduced by Kodak in 1935), really allows Hanoi to be represented in a modern way, while the subjects immortalised by Busy reveal a Vietnam that is both outdated and in the process of changing towards the 20th century. This is precisely the aim of Albert Kahn’s great scientific project when he and Jean Brunhes created the “Archives de la Planète” in 1913. This ambitious project is defined by Brunhes as a “record of humanity, caught in the midst of life, at the beginning of the twentieth century, at the critical hour of one of the most complete economic, geographical and historical “mutations” that has ever been observed.

This exhibition is part of the decentralised cooperation between the Hanoi People’s Committee and the Île-de-France Region, implemented by PRX-Vietnam and the Hoan Kiem district. The autochromes are kept at the Albert Kahn Museum in Boulogne-Billancourt, Hauts-de-Seine department.


Léon Busy