2015’s Adieu Saigon is a collection of images shot in Vietnam, where Depardon began working as a photojournalist at 22. It is a small, thick book interspersed with short passages of context and recollection written by Depardon. Adieu Saigon defies the expectations the title might produce; overall there are very few images of the act of war, but many of life during wartime in the city of Saigon.
There are a surprising amount of couples walking the boulevards or riding two to a motorcycle. Depardon’s writing also hints of the erotic landscape that exists in the imagination of western visitors to so many tropical colonial destinations. He writes about going on a date with the front desk girl from his hotel, he calls her prudish because she wore a traditional dress and went right home after the movie but a horny hanger-on of an imperial power’s invading army could do worse, I suppose, than get rejected by a teenager. And there’s the bug-eyed American GI who walks hand-in-hand with a Vietnamese lady, cigarette hanging loosely in his free hand. In one photo he struggles to keep his eyes open to maintain his thousand-mile stare; in the other he looks right into the lens, his expression could mean anything. It probably means he wants heroin.