Ho Chi Minh City
XEM was founded in 2013 by five Vietnamese artists in Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyễn Thanh Trúc, Ưu Đàm Trần Nguyễn, Hoàng Dương Cầm, Quang Lâm and Phan Quang. It is, first of all, a group of friends sharing a common passion for photography as a medium (though each member works professionally in a range of differing media. In the era of the digital, their desire is to leave a tangible trace of their view of the world by showing – in the format of a book – experimental photographic works (often unable to enter the existing mainstream media in Vietnam which largely accepts only commercial or conventionally picturesque photography). The book is a simple object with a highly symbolic value. It can be passed from hand to hand and survive time and can be stored in a library (not just as part of a standard exhibition). The title of the book – ‘XEM’ – is taken after the name of the group, which means to ‘see’ and to ‘observe’ in Vietnamese. Being the first non-commercial photography book in Vietnam, XEM fills a gap existing between commercial galleries (focusing on the market) and art centers (focus on concepts and curation) with a regular publication, providing a new platform for artists to showcase and share their vision.