“White Skin” is a project about the ‘cover-up style’ worn by the scooter drivers in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I was interested the original colorful, modern, individuality of each driver. Vietnamese love to keep their white skin and even in the humid tropical heat, they wear many layers to keep out the sun.
In order to not expose an inch of skin to the sun, girls especially, cover their entire body with all sorts of materials: masks, scarves, fashion sunglasses, long sleeves, gloves, tight trousers, socks with flip flops and even hats under their helmets as they drive their scooters around in the heat of the day and the pollution of the streets, which are mostly congested by scooters.
Here, like in most of South East Asia, the color of the skin denotes the social status, and people look down on dark skin because they don’t want to be perceived as poor. Today, more than ever, advertisements for white skin as a social ideal have powerful influence, to the point that lotions, creams, body and baby soaps, even deodorants contain whitening agents to help lighten the skin.
This cult of whiteness for the youngest generations has given rise to exciting, colorful, and modern expressions of scooter fashion – “cover-up style”: a mix of Japanese Hello Kitty accessories, hipster western jeans and sweatshirts on which any logo is welcome. In this communist country the recent access and attraction to western consumer products, especially in big cities obliterates traditional Vietnamese dress.
Monia Lippi was born near Bologna, Italy. From her formal education in Interior Design in Milan, she arrived to photography and video through different experiences in Italy, Paris and then in New York from 2005. She started to participated in numerous group shows and several independent and collaborative entries have been included in a number of Italian and German International Film Festivals and expositions.
Her main cultural influences come from the Italian and European arts, interested specially in architecture, painting, theater, cinema, but also in archeology and anthropology. She has always been interested to the versatility of the U.S. American landscapes and cityscapes with their cultural identities, as well as how different life-styles reflect themselves in architecture. Exploring different environments she developed many personal projects, shooting on 6x9cm medium format and showing series of large C-Prints, of the “Nocturnal Brooklyn,” “Doors.,” “The Last Vintage American Cars,” “Floating Winona,” and other projects. In digital, she did started an aerial series “At 36000 Feet” of the South West American deserts and some projects in Vietnam: “White Skin”, “Chau Doc Stilts”, “Floating Cat Ba” and more.