The magical balancing act of moped riders in South East Asia is a source of real intrigue, so much so, it's a wonder that it's taken up until now to have a dedicated photography series. One has arrived though, and it's an expectedly intriguing look into this cultural intrigue.
Jon Enoch arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam at a curious time. Zipping dangerously all around him were mopeds manned by a person (often more than one) and an assortment of interesting and humorous objects.
Mopeds are a major cultural enabler there, giving people a means to make a living or get to the place to do so. The news that the country were looking to ban the use of the bikes by 2030, to combat pollution, poses more questions than answers to the people there.
Being a photographer, Enoch took it upon himself to document this distinct means of transport, at least in the way its used compared to the rest of the world - something that would be unimaginable back home as a Brit.
Enoch's photography exhibition has the incredible ability of pulling the riders out of their haphazard context, allowing the audience to evaluate the phenomenon from an outsiders perspective - cranking the absurdity right up. Their place, which Enoch refers to as "way of life", in the country, has imbued the series with a photo-documentary style. Each image seems to have a backdrop and story attached.
Stark images of the most unusual cargo are set in neon drenched cityscapes, captured with a transportive honesty that gives his audience a nose full of the fumes. Besides the visual aspect, Enoch admires the technical side and the way the mopeds are loaded, a magical balancing act that can be a matter of life and death a worst, or of putting food on the table at best.
Although it was the news of the impending ban that proved to be the impetus for his decision to shoot the series now, the idea had been bubbling away for the best part of a decade. What Enoch has captured here is more than a unique cultural oddity, but an insightful, exciting and sadly dying part of life for so many people in a part of the world with a great deal of cultural nuances.
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