An-My Lê: Small Wars at the Henry Art Gallery

An-My Lê, <i>29 Palms: Night Operations III</i>. 2003–2004. Gelatin silver print. Collection Lannan Foundation, Santa Fe, NM.

This exhibition comprises two photographic series by Season 4 artist An-My Lê that explore the military conflicts that have framed the last half-century of American history: the war in Vietnam and the current war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lê approaches these events obliquely. Instead of addressing her subject by creating reportage of actual shocking events, she photographs places where war is psychologically anticipated, processed, and relived. Her series Small Wars (1999‚Äì2002) depicts men who spend their weekends reenacting battles from the Vietnam War in the forests of Virginia. Lê’s current series, 29 Palms (2003-present), documents a military base of the same name. Located in the California desert, it is a base where soldiers train before being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. These dramatizations of war -one a reenactment, one a rehearsal- allow her to create a unique kind of war imagery: unexpected, removed, and revelatory.

Small Wars is on view at the Henry through November 4, 2007. It is a traveling exhibition organized by the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College in Chicago; the Marion Center for Photographic Arts at the College of Santa Fe, NM; RISD Museum, Providence, RI; National Media Museum, Bradford, UK; Ffotogallery, Cardiff, Wales, UK. It will travel to SFMoMA in San Francisco, the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH; and the Johnson Museum at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY in 2008.

For further details on Small Wars, read the Museum of Contemporary Photography’s essay here.

On October 13 at 2p.m., An-My Lê will be speaking at the Brooklyn Museum following a screening of the Season 4 episode Protest in which she is featured. Check back for more details soon.

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Art21 Director of Special Projects
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