Almost 40 years after the devastating war in Vietnam, society there has changed its hopes and dreams. A new generation of Vietnamese has set out to create high-paced economic growth. Curiously, this new capitalist spirit develops under the strict rule of the communist party. In his series Charlie Surfs on Lotus Flowers, Italian photographer Simone Sapienza (b.1990) attempts to explore these contrasts of Vietnamese society beyond idealised travel photographs known across the world. While taking distance from an ordinary photojournalistic approach, Sapienza tries to find those references to power, economy, energy, exoticism and politics that typify modern Vietnam. Sapienza’s colourful, expressive and symbol-ridden photos question our prejudices about a country which is booming economically yet resides under tight control of the communist party.