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An-My Le: Small Wars [Hardcover]

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Item description for An-My Le: Small Wars by An-my Le, Richard B. Woodward & Hilton Als...

An-My Le was born in Vietnam in 1960 and came to the United States as a political refugee at age fifteen. She returned to Vietnam several times in 1994-98, creating stunning large-format, black-and-white photographs, expertly printed in a middle-gray scale reminiscent of Robert Adams. These images do not address the war specifically, but rather represent Le's attempt to reconcile memories of her childhood home with the contemporary landscape that now confronted her. The war haunts the images in eerie metaphors: dozens of kites double as dive-bombing planes; crop fires and construction sites recall napalm and mass graves.
In 1999 Le began working with Vietnam War reenactors in Virginia who restage battles as well as the training and daily life of soldiers - both Viet Cong and American GIs. For four summers, she not only photographed but participated in battles of the Vietnam War restaged on her adopted American soil. Relating to both documentary and staged photography, the work is both aesthetically rigorous and conceptually challenging. Soldiers at rest give themselves up to portraiture, while battle compositions recognizable from classic war photojournalism possess the qualities of a dream. Most recently, Le has photographed exercises performed by the U.S. military in the American desert in preparation for maneuvers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Small Wars collects these three eloquent series in one volume.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   128
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 12.5" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   2.45 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 15, 2005
Publisher   Aperture
ISBN  1931788820  
ISBN13  9781931788823  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Art > Art History
2Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Photography > Collections, Catalogues & Exhibitions
3Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Photography > General
4Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Photography > Photo Essays
5Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Photography > Photographers, A-Z > General
6Books > Subjects > Arts & Photography > Photography > Photojournalism
7Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > State & Local - By State > Virginia
8Books > Subjects > History > Asia > Vietnam > General

Reviews - What do customers think about An-My Le: Small Wars?

Fictions and Truths: The Wonderful Photographs of An-My Lê  Sep 22, 2007
The other day I went to the university library only to discover that it was closed. My natural reaction was to head over to the Henry Art Gallery (in Seattle) to check out the new photography exhibit at the Henry called Small Wars by Vietnamese American photographer An-My Lê. I didn't really know what to expect. I was very pleased that I absolutely loved the photographs. Lê captures compelling the peformativity of war in her two series, "Small Wars" and "29 Palms." The former depicts images of Vietnam reenactors in Virginia and the latter military training and preparation for war in the Middle East on the 29 Palms military base. The images are deeply affective - emoting a sense of absurdity in the very plasticity of the convoluted term we all hear and throw around so often: war. Yet it is in this realization of the "un-realness" of "the wars" in the images that brings forth the disturbing and haunting aura of the word in any and all its permutations, spectral or not.

I just got a copy of _Small Wars_ by An-My Lê (the book, published by the Aperture Foundation), and I've been reliving my experiences seeing the photographs at the Henry. Included in the book that was left out of the exhibit is a series of photographs taken in Vietnam, which serves as the book's opening. The semiotics of the arrangement of the photographs create a powerful narrative of the wars that Lê personally navigates through, in all its fictions and truths. I highly recommend this book! It's fantastic!
Small Wars makes a Huge Impact  Oct 29, 2005
An-My Lê is a photography artist whose technical talent with the 5-by-7-view camera serves to capture her insightful, powerful imagery of landscapes that serve as matrix for the exploration of war and its impact on individuals. She combines images of actual wartime situations with 'practice/artificial' war training camps and the juxtaposition is startlingly surreal in capturing the reality of war.

Lê fled Saigon at age 15 during the US exodus in 1975. For the first series in this stunning portfolio from 1994 to 1999 Lê returned to Vietnam in an attempt to reconnect with her homeland. While there she photographed rural landscapes and urban views that, though still scarred by the incisors of the Vietnam War, are moments connecting her memory of home with the passage of time and change. The images are not manipulated, they are simply shot with clarity and in that vein such powerful photographs as 'Untitled Hanoi, 1995' is at once a stark apartment housing project 'fortress' in the foreground of which is the unfocused movement of young boys playing soccer while a central figure on a tree stump, in focus, stares off into what feels like a broken vision of hope.

In the period of 1999 to 2002 Lê turned her camera toward the activities of a Virginia-based club self-named 'living historians' as the reenacted events from the Vietnam War (wargames these are) and in posing as a player, both civilian and enemy, she managed to penetrate the strange obsession with these men in somehow maintaining the myth of the war. 'GI' is a simple portrait of a reenactor at rest in battle regalia gazing into Lê's camera with occult thoughts of intention. It is a very human testimony to the confusion the concept of war creates.

In 2003 and 2004 Lê installed her camera and eye on the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms at a time when troops were training for Iraq and Afghanistan, absorbing not only the machinery of war but also the effects of landscape in the process of being altered by war machinery. Many of these photographs are serenely beautiful: 'Night Operations III' is a night photograph of aerial bombing in the desert, the streaks of mortar fire and illuminators create a balletic frenzy in the black sky over the miniaturized training camp facilities.

An-My Lê takes her title 'SMALL WARS' of this profoundly impressive book from the military term for guerilla warfare - warfare that stretches from the military zone into the land. Her emphasis is on the landscape in each of these personal images, a factor that subtly focuses on the smallness and vulnerability of the subjects. She puts war into a context where few have ventured and the result is an intense experience and a book of substantive beauty. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, October 05

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