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Nick Ut's iconic 'Napalm Girl' photograph on display in Ho Chi Minh City

Wednesday, April 06, 2022, 11:24 GMT+7
Nick Ut's iconic 'Napalm Girl' photograph on display in Ho Chi Minh City
Nick Ut delivers a speech at the opening of his exhibition in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on April 3, 2022. Photo: T.T.D. / Tuoi Tre

The Lavelle Gallery in Thu Duc City under Ho Chi Minh City is hosting a photo exhibition by Nick Ut, who took the famous 'Napalm Girl' picture, until April 10.

On Monday, former photojournalist Nick Ut commemorated the opening of his exhibition at the Lavelle Gallery in Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City.

This event features 22 photographs from his career as a war correspondent.

Among them is the 1973 Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph 'Napalm Girl.'

A visitor enjoys Nick Ut’s photographs Nick Ut’s artwork at the Lavelle Gallery in Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: T.T.D / Tuoi Tre

A visitor enjoys Nick Ut’s photographs at the Lavelle Gallery in Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: T.T.D. / Tuoi Tre

Numerous artists, photographers, filmmakers, and actors were in attendance at the opening ceremony.

Quoc Trung, a well-known Vietnamese composer, shared that this was his first encounter with Nick Ut's artwork.

"Perhaps the world has never seen so much instability and perhaps never has peace been so valuable," Trung said.

“Nick's photographs demonstrate once again how terrible war is and how we must maintain the peace at all costs."

The Lavelle Gallery screened a short documentary about photographer Nick Ut and his 'Napalm Girl' photo during the opening ceremony.

Vietnamese composer Quoc Trung contemplates Nick Ut’s artwork at the Lavelle Gallery in Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Mai Thuy / Tuoi Tre

Vietnamese composer Quoc Trung contemplates Nick Ut’s artwork at the Lavelle Gallery in Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Mai Thuy / Tuoi Tre

Nick spoke candidly about the photograph he had captured half a century ago.

He choked up at times while recalling and discussing the image of Kim Phuc, the main character in the 'Napalm Girl' photograph, running down the road in tears, naked, and severely burned.

"I rushed her to the hospital as soon as I took the photograph. However, the doctors there refused to treat her due to a lack of medication," he recalled. “They finally rescued her when I pulled out my Associated Press card and threatened to report it to the world."

“At the time, I considered killing myself if she died," Nick Ut explained as he raised his hand in a gun gesture aimed at his head and pulled the trigger.

"If Kim Phuc dies, the photograph will lose its value."

Nick Ut (left) and Kim Ut are seen together in this supplied photo.

Nick Ut (left) and Kim Ut are seen together in this supplied photo.

He was only 21 years old when the photograph was taken.

Nick Ut followed in his brother Huynh Thanh My's footsteps as a war correspondent.

Reporter Huynh Thanh My guided Nick Ut and shared with him the agony of witnessing corpses piled up as they died from bombs and bullets.

Since then, Nick Ut developed an early understanding of war's cruelty and the suffering of the people.

Talking with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Nick Ut shared that like those who experienced the war, he also suffered psychological trauma during the post-war period.

"I still have nightmares about the war to this day. That is why I am afraid to watch films about war," Nick confided.

According to Nick Ut, contemporary battlefield photography is significantly different than in the past.

"Nowadays, American newspapers publish photographs of people and soldiers' families crying, but no longer publish photographs of corpses or exploit fierce angles, as the American public has lost interest in those scenes,” Nick said.

Although Nick Ut has been retired for a few years, he continues to photograph nature and animals.

This time, he is returning to Vietnam primarily for charitable purposes.

Along with Nick Ut's works, the exhibition features the sculpture 'A Child' by French sculptor Émeric Chantier.

Carved on plants, the work combines ancient bonsai art and contemporary sculptural techniques.

The 'Napalm Girl' inspired young artist Chantier to create this work in the hope that nature and peace would help heal the wounds of war.

According to filmmaker Jenny Ai Trinh Thai, a close friend of Nick Ut and the 'Napalm Girl,' Kim Phuc is currently residing in Canada.

"Kim Phuc and her husband have devoted their lives to supporting children over the years," Jenny said.

"Hollywood filmmakers are currently working on a documentary about Nick Ut.

"According to some producers, a film about Kim Phuc is also in the works.”

In May, photographer Nick Ut will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ‘Napalm Girl’ with an exhibition in Italy.

He and Kim Phuc will meet with Pope Francis on this occasion.

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Linh To - Mai Thuy / Tuoi Tre News

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