DINH Q. LE: CROSSING THE FARTHER SHORE @ Rice Gallery, University of Texas Dinh Q. Lê 11 Apr,2014|ARTIST NEWS

Dinh Q. Lê
Crossing the Farther Shore

10 April - 28 August 2014

Rice University Art Gallery has commissioned Dinh Q. Lê to create the new installation, Crossing the Farther Shore, which will be on view at Rice Gallery 10 April - 28 August 2014. An acclaimed contemporary artist, Dinh Q. Lê is the first Vietnamese artist to have a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He is well known for his approach to photography as a malleable material to splice, interweave, and distort to explore his own relationship to Vietnam’s complicated cultural and political history. The opening celebration on Thursday, April 10 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm, will feature remarks by Dinh Q. Lê at 6:00 pm. Complimentary snacks and beverages including ale courtesy of Saint Arnold Brewery will be served. The event is free and open to the public. Paid parking (credit card only) is available directly in front of the gallery on the Fondren VisitorsÙ Lot and near the Rice Stadium. For more information see the VISIT page at ricegallery.org or call 713.348.6069.

Dinh Q. Lê is planning an ambitious, architectural installation of black and white photographic ephemera taken from the Vietnam War era, pre-1975. He has collected these photographs over the years that are often similar to the images that might fill a family’s photo album: portraits, scenic vistas, snapshots from events, etc. They are stitched together in monumental grids and paired with text handwritten on the back of the photographs. Specific recollections of the Vietnam War era have been chosen by Dinh Q. Lê from oral history interviews, including those conducted by Rice University’s Chao Center for Asian Studies with Houston’s Vietnamese community, the second largest outside of California. The large photo assemblages will be hung from the ceiling to create ethereal, cube-like structures inspired by the rectangular mosquito nets used in Vietnam. Dinh Q. Lê characterizes the gesture as a “sleeping, dreaming memory of Vietnam.”

Dinh Q. Lê began to explore his Vietnamese-American identity and the Vietnam War in the early 1990s when he started a series of “photo-weavings” using traditional Vietnamese techniques of grass-mat weaving which he learned from his Aunt. Lê threads together strips of multiple photographs to interrelate different subject matters and to blur a single imageÙs representational clarity. He explains one such body of work, From Vietnam to Hollywood, as “a series of found photographs – everyday snapshots from Vietnam, Hollywood film stills of movies about the Vietnam War and images taken by photojournalists during the Vietnam War – and the three are cut up and woven together to create this landscape of images that are neither fact nor fiction.”

Recently, Lê has expanded his work to use video to similarly weave images and stories together recalling the Vietnam War. The Farmers and the Helicopters, which was on view at MoMA in New York in 2010, mixed interviews with Vietnamese locals and images from Western films to offer a multi-layered exploration of the changing perceptions of the charged symbol of the helicopter from a wartime horror to a machine for agricultural and communal benefit. In 2012, he exhibited Light and Belief in Germany for the international exhibition dOCUMENTA 13. The video was shown for the first time in the United States at the contemporary art triennial, 2013 Carnegie International at the Carnegie Museum of Art. Light and Belief pairs a hundred pencil and ink drawings made by North Vietnamese artists during the Vietnam war with a video documentary of interviews with these artists who are still alive. They talk with humor, candor, pride, and sadness about the complex role that art served during war as they created portraits of soldiers who soon died and sketched placid scenes that concealed the violence to offer beauty and hope.

Dinh Q. Lê currently lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. His family fled war-torn Vietnam in the 1970s. He grew up in Los Angeles and studied fine arts at UC Santa Barbara and received an MFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York. In 1996, he moved from New York to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), and in 2007 he co-founded Sàn Art, an artist-run exhibition space and reading room in Ho Chi Minh City that promotes young Vietnamese artists. LêÙs work has been exhibited at galleries and museums across Asia, Europe and the United States. Recent solo exhibitions include at the Contemporary Art Foundation (Sydney, 2011), Ikon gallery (Birmingham, UK, 2011), and the Museum of Modern Art (New York, 2010). His work was included in the 2013 Carnegie International at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany (2013); Singapore Biennale (2008) in Singapore; The Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (2006) in Brisbane, Australia, and The Gwangju Biennial (2006) in Gwangju City, Korea. Awards include the Prince Claus Fund Visual Art Laureate (2012), National Endowment for the Art Fellowship in Photography (1994-95), and an Individual PhotographerÙs Fellowship from the Aaron Siskind Foundation (1992). His work is included in numerous permanent collections, such as The Museum of Modern Art, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art.