Việt Nam

An-My Le


The Vietnam series began in 1994 President Clinton had lifted the trade embargo with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and allowed for the normalization of relations between the two countries. I was able to return to Vietnam for the first time since my family and I were airlifted by the American military at the end of the war in 1975. Having lived in exile for almost 20 years, this return “home” allowed me to make photographs that were driven by a desire to make whole a childhood upended by war. But I am also a maximalist. I was interested in infusing the photographs with Vietnam’s complicated and rich culture and history. I was free associating as I was looking at individuals and groups of people, the agrarian landscape or more urban cityscapes as they was disrupted by the invasion of new technology companies or echoes of war.


An-My Le is an artist whose photographs of landscapes transformed by war or other forms of military activity blur the boundaries between fact and fiction and are rich with layers of meaning. A refugee from Vietnam and resident of the United States since 1975, much of Le’s work is inspired by her own experience of war and dislocation. From black and white images of her native Vietnam taken on a return visit in 1994 to pictures of Vietnam War battle re-enactments in rural America, her photographs straddle the documentary and the conceptual, creating a neutral perspective that brings the essential ambiguity of the medium to the fore. Since 1998, she has been affiliated with Bard College, where she is currently a professor in the Department of Photography. Her work has been exhibited at such venues as the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others.