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"29 Palms"An-My Lê
“I just wanted to approach the idea of war in a more complicated and more challenging way” says artist An-My Lê, whose photographic series and film 29 Palms (2003–04) explore the training exercises and desert landscape near Joshua Tree National Park as a staging ground for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.More information and credits
Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera: Joel Shapiro. Sound: Roger Phenix. Editor: Mary Ann Toman. Artwork Courtesy: An-My Lê. Video: © 2011, Art21, Inc. All rights reserved.
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An-My Lê’s photographs and films examine the impact, consequences, and representation of war. Whether in color or black-and-white, her pictures frame a tension between the natural landscape and its violent transformation into battlefields. Suspended between the formal traditions of documentary and staged photography, Lê’s work explores the disjunction between wars as historical events and the ubiquitous representation of war in contemporary entertainment, politics, and collective consciousness.
“You would think that I should make something that’s outwardly anti-war because I’ve seen so much devastation and because I’ve lived through war. But I was not so interested in that as I was in raising all these issues. The issue of landscape in war, and how you have to move all that equipment, and the army, and the whole battalion, how do you move that across? And suddenly, a hill is much more than a hill.”