In her recent photographic series Small Wars and 29 Palms, Vietnamese American artist An-My Lê delves into Americans’ complicated relationship with war by turning her lens on two of the less familiar sides of conflict: reenactment and rehearsal, respectively. With a style that mirrors documentary photography, Lê depicts Vietnam War reenactors staging theatrical battles in the forests of Virginia and soldiers at the Twentynine Palms, California, military base training for the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — warlike activities without the mortal dangers of war. This exhibition unites 47 large-format, black-and-white pictures from the two series, offering a novel perspective on military engagements that maintains a deliberate ambiguity.
This exhibition is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College Chicago. The exhibition is generously funded by the Lannan Foundation. Additional support for the exhibition is provided by the Illinois Arts Council, the Mayer and Morris Kaplan Family Foundation, The Henrietta Lange Burk Fund, The Palmer Foundation, and the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.
The San Francisco presentation is made possible by support from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.