top of page


May 19, 2024
April 20, 2024
Hà Đào

</3 - an open studio by Ha Dao, a photographer, writer and programme coordinator at Matca.

</3 introduces works grounded in real tragedies learned through the press and social media. As media sensations, both stories feature a female outlaw as the protagonist. Amassing two uncommon fates, </3 deals with romance, heartbreak and crime in Vietnam's recent past. Entrenched are her ongoing inquiries into the creative and ethical implications of the camera, or more specifically, of appropriating stories not of one's own.


Juggling with a variety of visual information (photographs, audio recordings, video footages, found and reconstructed materials), in this open studio, Hà proposes A NARRATIVE CONTEXT in which the pure function endowed in the photography almost proved futile: the large volume of visual statement is exposed, the voice of knowledge is clear and directly perceived without any filter, vivid details constitute the very raw material of ‘that-has-been’ yet at the same time can very well say nothing at all, as what represented can be immediately yielded to our perception but extremely elusive once one aims to process them to grasp the whole story.

Such interesting narrative context, in turn, provokes questions about what was not allowed/impossible to be represented, about the "blind field"- parts of the scene outside the frame, and reiterates an often overlooked issue of our age which is unfailingly manipulated by mass consumption of information and social media: every photograph/recording only tells a part of the story.

The pursuit of truth (in terms of informational aspect) is impossible here, </3, however, invites us - in a role of SPECTATOR to embark on a journey of exploring the 'sentimental’ reasons which interested Roland Barthes: 'I want to explore it not as a Question or a Theme but as a Wound: I see, I feel, hence I notice, I observe and I think." (Camera Lucida)

Artist's website:


All things considered (2019) 

This body of works is based on a murder case in Bình Dương in 2017. 

The so-called crime of passion made national headlines because of its grotesque yet compelling details. Out of jealousy and in selfdefense, a woman named Hàng Thị Hồng Diễm killed her husband and dismembered his body at their home in a factory worker dormitory. She recounted what happened on that fateful night during the four-hour trial.

I was drawn to the discrepancy between the graphic description and deadpan photographic documentation in news reports: captioned  as the crime scene, a seemingly innocent street corner, trash cans, and home interiors took on new meanings, providing evidence for the incident without witnesses. Adopting the role of a private investigator as if in a twisted game, I set out to capture observed and staged situations in various locations in Bình Dương. Combining audio excerpted from the trial, this work endeavors to recreate the incident based on the testimony of the woman/convict.


If Heaven Awaits (2024)

The video work portrays the Hải Phòng born and bred Dung Hà (Vũ Hoàng Dung), a notorious gangster who used to monopolize gambling sites, adopt a masculine appearance and openly date women.Together with illegal activities, her sexuality was the subject of discussion and ridicule in the public eye. She was shot point-blank by her rival in the year 2000; the assassination shook Vietnam’s underworld.

A fictional rendezvous between the long-gone Dung Hà and her old flame, rumored to be her one true love, plays out along the 2000s pop ballad 'Đêm Nay Anh Mơ Về Em (“Dreaming of You Tonight”). Adopting the aesthetic of music videos from this era, the work centers lesbian longing and butch/transmasculine expressions against the backdrop of heteronormative pop culture. 

Confronted by the distance of time and the impossibility of knowing, I turn to imagination as a strategy to construct stories about the price of love intertwined with battles for survival. Imagination also offers a certain freedom to explore and resurface fragments of memories that have been either lost or silenced. And yet while delving into intellectual musings and grappling with my own doubts about what images can and should do, I find myself returning to the question: How much could we know about the lives of others?


See more about artist(s)

bottom of page