An-My Lê: On Contested Terrain Limited-Edition Book & Print Set

Photographs by An-My Lê. By (author) Dan Leers. Text by Lisa Sutcliffe and David Finkel. Interviewer Viet Thanh Nguyen. Interviewee An-My Lê.


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Aperture is pleased to release this very special limited-edition print by An-My Lê, accompanied by a signed copy of the artist's survey, On Contested Terrain. All proceeds from the sale of the limited-edition set support the publication of this important and timely volume of work. Taken for the series Silent General, this previously unpublished image is tranquil on the surface, yet in the context of the series, poetically alludes to the political polarization of the landscape along the border of Mexico and the United States. The series Silent General takes its title from Walt Whitman’s Specimen Days (1882), an autobiographical recounting of his time spent tending to wounded Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Whitman had great empathy for both sides, writing, “I staid to-night a long time by the bedside of a new patient, a young Baltimorean, aged about 19 years . . . As I was lingering, soothing him in his pain, he says to me suddenly, ‘I hardly think you know who I am—I don’t wish to impose upon you—I am a rebel soldier.’ I said I did not know that, but it made no difference. . . . In an adjoining ward I found his brother, an officer of rank, a Union soldier, a brave and religious man . . . It was in the same battle both were hit. One was a strong Unionist, the other Secesh; both fought on their respective sides, both badly wounded, and both brought together here after a separation of four years. Each died for his cause.” Lê made her first photographs for this series in New Orleans, when Confederate statues started coming down in 2015. Since then, she has gathered different, sometimes conflicting viewpoints on a twenty-first-century cross-country road trip. Lê’s designation of “Fragments” within this series is an homage to the literary structure of Specimen Days and a poetic way of sequencing the pictures.

Pigment Print, accompanied by a signed copy of On Contested Terrain
Print Title: Vaquero Guarding Cattle, El Mulato, Mexico, 2019
Paper Size: 8 x 10 inches
Edition of 100
Signed and numbered by the artist

About the Artist

An-My Lê (b. 1960, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) came to the United States as a political refugee at age fifteen. She received a Master’s degree in Biology from Stanford University before earning an MFA in Photography at Yale University in 1993. Lê’s 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. An-My Lê is represented by the Murray Guy Gallery in New York, among others.

Dan Leers is a curator of photography at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, and organized the traveling exhibition An-My Lê: On Contested Terrain. Previously, Leers was the Beaumont and Nancy Newhall Curatorial Fellow in the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, and an independent curator and consultant to the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art (New Paltz, New York), Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, and 2013 Venice Biennale.

Lisa Sutcliffe is the Herzfeld Curator of Photography and Media Arts at the Milwaukee Art Museum. From 2007 to 2012, she served as assistant curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Prior exhibitions include Marking Time in Photography and Film (2013), The Provoke Era: Postwar Japanese Photography, and Photography Now: China, Japan, Korea (both 2009).

David Finkel is a journalist and author whose honors include a MacArthur fellowship and a Pulitzer Prize.

Viet Thanh Nguyen is author of The Sympathizer (2015), which received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, among other awards. He is a recipient of fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and MacArthur Foundation. Nguyen is a professor and the Aerol Arnold Chair of English at the University of Southern California.

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