I’m interested in experiencing something, and the act of taking a picture is a way for me to process that experience into an image…For me, so much of that comes from the details, the ability of the print to describe the space between things.
— An-My Lê, “An-My Lê’s Events Ashore,” The New Yorker
In her first exhibition in Canada, An-My Lê presents a selection of photographic works that depict landscapes transformed by military activities, blurring the boundaries between Hollywood portrayals and photojournalistic documentation. Much of her work is inspired by her own experiences of war and dislocation as a political refugee. The exhibition features works from the series Small Wars, where the artist immersed herself in re-enactments of battles from the Vietnam War carried out by military enthusiasts, and 29 Palms, where she documented US troop training in conditions and locations that simulate the Middle East. Images from Events Ashore are also included in the exhibition; for this project, Lê was given permission to photograph military installations throughout the world, from the Arctic to the Antarctic, from 2005 to 2012.
The artist documented everything from sweeping panoramas at sea to military exercises on land and humanitarian efforts in countries such as Haiti. Lê’s relationship with her subject matter speaks of her own complex experiences. As she says: “My life has been completely affected by American foreign policy…They were the perpetrators, but they were also the saviours.”
An-My Lê was the Audain Distinguished Artist-in-Residence at Emily Carr University in spring 2015. Her work has been widely exhibited, including solo and group exhibitions throughout Europe, North America, Australia and Asia. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation.