Some of the most poignant stories of conflict were taken during the long and costly Vietnam War. From November 1955 to April 1975 — almost twenty years — photojournalists documented the chaos and destruction that ravaged the region of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Lao PDR. More than four decades later, some explosive remnants of the war still remain scattered and hidden in these parts. It’s the turn of Copenhagen-based photographer Ken Hermann to document the efforts of the men who take care of these lethal leftovers.
The Vietnam War may be long over but its remnants are still injuring and killing hundreds of civilians annually. This was what Ken found out and wanted to tell in his recent documentary project titled, Leftovers from the War. The title is a reference to what he called a “lethal legacy” of unexploded ordnance, or UXO, and landmines that still lie hidden in those areas of conflict.
Ken adds that these hazardous munitions continue to impact generations of the civilian population, primarily those in poor, rural areas. “Particularly widespread, persistent and volatile of these hazards are the numerous types of cluster munitions remnants (CMR), known regionally as ‘bombis,’ which kill and maim hundreds of civilians annually.”
Ken’s Leftovers from the War shows us that in place of soldiers, members of the Danish Demining Group (DDG) now brave the frontlines of the once war-torn region. As with other works that we’ve seen, Ken’s documentary prowess shines throughout the set. He has put a face on the locals turned DDG personnel who place themselves at risk to address the legacy of war, especially in prime livelihood areas. He also gives us a glimpse of what a typical workday for the staff is like, and what kinds of “leftovers” they find during fieldwork.