“Over the last four years, I’ve travelled many times to Asia, documenting street life in its mega- cities. Usually, when people travel in that region, they report on more exotic places, remote tribes and armed conflicts… but they’re not interested in life in these big and chaotic capitals. For me, the streets of a city are a summary of all the cultural aspects of a country.
From the moment I chose to go through the three countries that are part of these work, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, it was once again evident that life for people in this part of the world is absolutely public. This is where they differ from those in other parts of the planet. The street is an extension of the home, and there’s no clear dividing line between one person and another. People here wake up and, with the first light of day, walk straight out onto the street where there’s more room. That’s where they eat, play cards, go to the doctor, cut their hair… everything is done on the street. Privacy here is not a concept as deeply rooted as in Europe.
For this work, I looked for daily moments stolen from the chaos, which is the main feature of cities such as Hanoi, Ho Chih Minh, Phnom Penh and Vientiane. With a selective use of light, the characters in these images become isolated; then, from instances that seem irrelevant but without which it would be difficult to understand day-to-day life in this corner of the world, we can better get to know their markets, schools, neighbourhoods and traditions.”
The Spanish photographer Manu Mart is a member of the Calle35 photographer collective. Over the past few years, Mart took many trips to Asia – in part for his own projects, in part doing documentary work for various NGOs.