Aperture is offering two photographs by An-My Lê, coinciding with the publication of her first monograph, Small Wars (Aperture, 2005). Night Operations is taken from her 29 Palms series, in which she documents soldiers training for active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan in a desert like terrain in Southern California. Untitled, Thanh-Hoa, 1998 is from her Vietnam series in which she constructed "autobiographical still lifes."
In 1999 Lê began working with Vietnam War reenactors in North Carolina 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 also participated in battles of the Vietnam War restaged on her adopted American soil. Relating to both documentary and staged photography, the work is 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, Lê has photographed exercises performed by the U.S. military in the American desert in preparation for maneuvers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
An-My Lê was born in Vietnam in 1960 and came to the United States as a political refugee at age fifteen. An-My Lê received a master’s degree in biology from Stanford University before earning an M.F.A. in photography at Yale University in 1993. Her exhibitions include Only Skin Deep, International Center of Photography, New York (2004);Small Wars, P.S.1. Contemporary Art Center (2002); and Photographs from the Permanent Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art (2001). She is an assistant professor of photography at Bard College and lives in New York City. She is represented by the Murray Guy gallery in New York, among others.