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On Contested Terrain
by An-My Lê
On Contested Terrain is a comprehensive survey of the life work of Vietnamese-American photographer An-My Lê. The seven different series presented in this catalogue are rooted in Ms Le’s approach to landscapes of conflict and in the activities of military personal and war reenactors. Born in Vietnam in 1960, Ms. Le’s earliest memories are inextricably linked to war, an experience that continues to guide her photographic intent. Ms Lê's first complete body of work was made in Vietnam and focuses on the landscape and memories of her childhood. This tension plays out in all Ms Lê’s subsequent work. In “Small Wars,” she photographs Vietnam War reenactments in North Carolina and Virginia, pairing the activities of the actors with the stillness of the woods and meadows anticipating the coming action. In “Events Ashore,” a project nine years in the making, the subject matter becomes navy ships and personal against the expanse of world oceans where distance, time, and weather must be circumvented. In “29 Palms” the work is set at a Marine training base in central California where images of sparse desert landscapes again highlight the challenges of geography as army tanks crawl through open valleys, Marines in loose formation hike down long dusty roads, and at night the desert horizon comes alive with the lights of bombs streaking across the sky. Throughout her career, Ms Lê has sought to resolve the chaos and conflict she first encountered during childhood. On Contested Terrain is the record of this attempt.
— Charcoal Book Club members also recieve a small inkjet print from An-My Lê.