An-My Lê Receives 2012 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship

It is with great pleasure that we announce that An-My Lê has been awarded a 2012 John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.  One of 23 recipients of the 2012 Fellowship, Lê received the award in recognition of her photographs, which "approach the subjects of war and landscape from new perspectives to create images that blur the boundaries between fact and fiction and are rich with layers of meaning."  The MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship is a five-year grant to individuals who show exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future. With each recipient recieving $500,000, it is designed to provide scientists, writers, musicians, artists, educators, filmmakers, and various exceptional individuals with the flexibility to pursue their creative activities in the absence of any specific obligations.

Among the 23 recipients of this year's MacArthur Fellowship are the writer Junot Díaz, the pediatric neurosurgeon Benhamin Warf, geochemist Terry Plank, filmmakers Laura Poitras and Natalia Almada, economist Raj Chetty, mathematician Maria Chudnovsky, and another visual artist, Uta Barth.  Previous artists who have received MacArthur Fellowships include Julie Mehretu, Josiah McElheny, Jorge Pardo, Kara Walker, and Mark Bradford.

An-My Lê was born in Saigon, Vietnam, in 1960 but left Vietnam during the final year of the war in 1975 before finding a home as a political refugee in the U.S. Lê received an MFA from Yale University in 1993, and between 1994 and 1998 she made several trips back to Vietnam to discover and photograph her native country in peacetime. Since then Lê has explored the military conflicts that have framed the last half-century of American history: the war in Vietnam and the war in Iraq. But she approaches these events obliquely; instead of addressing her subject by creating reportage of actual conflict, she photographs places where war is psychologically anticipated, processed, and relived: Vietnam War re-enactments in Virginia and North Carolina (in her series Small Wars); and the US Marines’ training in the “virtual” Afghanistan and Iraq of the Californian desert (in 29 Palms).
An-My Lê’s latest ongoing body of work, Events Ashore, comprises color photographs shot in various coastal and oceanic locations around the world (West Africa, Japan, Vietnam, Kuwait, Antarctica) where the US Marines and Navy are strategically stationed to train for and deploy in current and potential conflicts.  Amongst the always polarizing and mythologizing representations of military force, Lê takes up the military’s movement over the world’s vast, ungovernable oceans as a site to visualize forces that today often seem beyond representation: changing global circulations of people, resources, power, and capital.  Her ongoing practice betrays a deep debt to the history of landscape and portrait photography—in particular nineteenth century photographers such as Roger Fenton, Timothy O’Sullivan or Gustave Le Gray, who were concerned as much with the richness of the photograph as a visual or topographic document as they were with any supposedly independent aesthetic value.
Lê has had solo exhibitions at DIA: Beacon (2007-2008); the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (2007); the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2006); The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (2006); and P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2002), among many other institutions.  Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions — including some of the most important exhibitions of recent times — at The Museum of Modern Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; the Barbican Gallery, London; CCS Hessel Museum of Art; and The Whitney Museum of American Art.    

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