An-My Lê

Artist lecture Tuesday, March 29, 2016 7PM
Timken Lecture Hall, California College of the Arts, 1111 Eighth St., San Francisco, CA 94107
29 Palms: Captain Folsom, 2003-04

The photographs of An-My Lê investigate the impact, consequences, and representation of war. Her work draws inspiration from her experiences as a refugee of the Vietnam War. Lê was born in Saigon, Vietnam in 1960 and settled in the United States in 1975, after fleeing Vietnam with her family during the final year of the war. She juxtaposes the tranquility of natural landscapes with echoes of violence and upheaval, as the landscape transforms into, or has been, a battlefield. The ambiguity in Lê’s work blends the lines between documentary and staged, functioning as observations of the representation and theater of war. The black-and-white images of Viêt Nam explore Lê’s memories of a war-torn countryside with the Vietnamese contemporary landscape. The tranquility of the present is imbued with haunting memories of past conflict. Her photographs explore the fluidity between fact and fiction. In Small Wars, she documents Vietnam War re-enactors in the American South. The reenactments, striving for authenticity, occur in the Appalachian forests of Virginia and North Carolina, rather than in Vietnam, revealing the endeavor. Photographed with a large-format film camera, the images find moments of pause and quiet contemplation amidst the frenetic energy of war games. 29 Palms stemmed from Lê’s denied request to accompany the American military forces in Iraq. She instead documented United States Marines during their training exercises in the Southern California desert before deployment to Iraq. Though clearly a training site, this reconstructed Middle Eastern landscape functions as an ominous reminder of the conflict to come.

Lê holds BAS and MS degrees in Biology from Stanford University and an MFA from Yale University. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and New York Foundation for the Arts. Her work has been widely exhibited and is held in many museum collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art; Museum of Modern Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. Since 1999, Lê has been a faculty member in the photography department at Bard College.

Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program

Pier 24 Photography is pleased to present the Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program in collaboration with California College of the Arts and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Each year, the Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program brings six photographers, writers, and curators to San Francisco to offer free and open lectures, and to work one-on-one with students at California College of the Arts.

Larry Sultan Photography Award

Bieke Depoorter, from the series I am about to call it a day, 2010.

Bieke Depoorter

Fall 2018 Residency
Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito, CA

Click HERE for more information on the Larry Sultan Photography Award

Photographer Bieke Depoorter (b. 1986, Belgium) travels the world to find her subjects, creating extraordinarily intimate photographs that straddle portraiture, documentary, and fiction. The relationships she creates with those she photographs are the key to her work. As Depoorter describes it, “The relationships I establish with my subjects are the foundation of my artistic practice…. The resulting stories are always partially mine, partially theirs.”

In her early work, Depoorter traveled to far-flung locales in Russia, Egypt, and the United States, befriending locals to photograph. She asked her subjects if she could spend the night in their homes, building rapport and trust that eventually allowed her to capture the mundane, routine, ordinary moments of their lives. Depoorter’s first such project, Ou Menya, documented her encounters in the homes of locals in Russia. She completed a similar, long-term project in the United States titled I am about to call it a day.

In As It May Be, a project photographed in Egypt beginning just after the revolution in 2011, she tried to find trust in a time of turmoil and suspicion, in an environment where private life is often shielded. With this project, she also started to question her use of the photographic medium. Conscious of her status as an outsider, she returned to Egypt in 2017 with the first draft of the book, inviting others to write comments directly on the photographs. Contrasting views on country, religion, society, and photography arise among people who would otherwise never engage in a dialogue with one another. In Sete#15 (2015) and the short film Dvalemodus (2017), she began to conceive of her subjects as actors, projecting her own fictional narratives onto her subjects’ factual environments, thereby blurring the line between her world and theirs. In her most recent projects, such as the ongoing project Agata (2017), Depoorter works even more collaboratively with her subjects.

She has published four books, and her work has been shown in the United States and Europe, including Photomuseum The Hague, The Netherlands and an upcoming exhibition at FOMU Antwerp, Belgium. She joined the Magnum agency as a nominee in 2012 and a full member in 2016. She is the recipient of the Magnum Expression award and the Prix levallois, among other accolades.

Depoorter lives and works in Ghent, Belgium.