Media & Myth at Format Photo Festival: Role of Media in Vietnam War

The Vietnam War was a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam.

Great Britain – The Media & Myth exhibition at FORMAT International Photography Festival brings together material produced for the London College of Communication’s NAM project, which explored the role of the media in the Vietnam War. Participants in the project have taken diverse approaches to this broad topic, from examining the ways in which photography was used to record the conflict,   to looking at the culture of underground zine production that took place amongst US servicemen stationed in south-east Asia. They have also used an array of media to express their ideas and research, from photo collages to video installations.

The curators say: ‘The Vietnam War might have passed into history, but it’s lessons and legacy remain plain to see in the conduct of modern wars and the way the media report them, and in the ways that these conflicts merge with popular culture and entertainment.’

Media & Myth at Format

Media & Myth also includes photographs drawn from the Stanley Kubrick archive, which proved to be  a key resource for many of the participants in the NAM project. On display are images produced during the making of the director’s 1985 Vietnam War film Full Metal Jacket, which reveal how Kubrick sought to dress and disguise the disused Beckton Gas Works site in East London as the set of the battle scarred Vietnamese city of Hue. Media & Myth was first staged in 2014 to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident. This attack by North Vietnamese boats on the warship USS Maddox was used by the United States government as a pretext to escalate its military involvement in Vietnam, despite furnishing only scant evidence in the form of a series of grainy and indistinct photographs. The curators say: ‘The dire consequences of this military escalation for the people of the United States, Vietnam and the wider region, demonstrates the huge power of the media in shaping the way wars are fought, remembered, and understood.’

Curated by:  Monica Alcazar-Duarte, Lewis Bush and Paul Lowe.

Artists: Jacob Balzani, Madeleine Corcoran, Cinzia D’Ambrosi, Veronika Lukasova, Amin Musa, Lewis Bush and Monica Alcazar-Duarte

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