An-My Lê

An-My Lê (born Saigon, 1960) is an acclaimed visual artist and one of the leading women in photography. 

She has been awarded numerous accolades and fellowships including the 2012 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1997), the National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Program Award (2007), and the Tiffany Comfort Foundation Fellowship (2010). Her work was included in the 2017 Whitney Biennial.

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Leaving Vietnam in 1975, she studied biology at Stanford University, receiving her BA in 1981 and her MA in 1985. While there, she took an elective course in photography and quickly became hooked on the medium. After concluding her studies at Stanford, she attended Yale School of Art, receiving her MFA in 1993.

Growing up in Vietnam, An-My has commented that her childhood was shaped by war. It is a subject to which her photographic work returns; she has travelled internationally, documenting military activity. 

Her approach to illustrating conflict is complex and intricate; refusing to view the military in ‘black-and-white’ terms, she has commented on its inherently ‘sublime’ nature – an ‘overwhelming force’ at once ‘horrific and beautiful’.

While several of An-My’s photographic projects focus on modern conflict, much of her work centres on past events. 

Working with historical re-enactors, she has reimagined images of the Vietnam war, working with a 19th century style camera in reference to war photographers of the past. She favours the large negatives produced by these cameras because of their descriptive power, with each image capturing subtle detail.

Beyond the technical precision of her work, An-My is interested in the ‘inherent ambiguity of photography’. She seeks to take advantage of the tension between the informative potential of images, and their inescapably subjective interpretation.

Professor of Photography at Bard College, An-My currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

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Heroines 2020

Alix Marie

Anastasia Taylor Lind