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"Small Wars (ambush I)", 1999-2002. Gelatin silver print, 26 x 37 1/2 inches. Edition of 5. © An-My Lê, courtesy Murray Guy, New York.

"People talk about black and white and how it’s associated with memory, but that doesn’t really work for me. They also talk about it being old-fashioned or obsolete, but I think it is very contemporary. It’s so unlike anything else and so removed from reality that if you use the right subject matter it can be very powerful." - An-My Lê

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29 Palms: Corporal Hoepper", 2003-04. Gelatin silver print, 37 1/2 x 26 inches. Edition of 5. © An-My Lê, courtesy Murray Guy, New York.

"I was distraught when the war started in March 2003, and I felt my heart going out to the soldiers being sent to Iraq. I wanted to explore that and to know more about how we were preparing for the war." - An-My Lê

BOISE.- Boise Art Museum (BAM) announces a new exhibition featuring two photographic series by artist An-My Lê, on display November 29, 2008, through March 1, 2009. The exhibition examines two modern military conflicts: the war in Vietnam and the current war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Her series Small Wars (1999-2002) depicts men who spend weekends in the forests of Virginia, reenacting battles from the Vietnam War. 29 Palms (2003-present) documents activities at the military base of the same name, where soldiers train in the California desert before being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. These dramatizations of war—one a reenactment, one a rehearsal—allow Lê to create unique imagery that is unexpected, removed, and revealing. Lê was born in Vietnam in 1960 and came to the U.S. as a 15-year-old refugee. She holds a BS and MS from Stanford University and an MFA from Yale University School of Art. Lê received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship in 1997, and her work is held in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, and Sackler Gallery, The Smithsonian, in Washington, D.C.

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"Small Wars (explosion)", 1999-2002. Gelatin silver print, 26 x 37 1/2 inches. Edition of 5. © An-My Lê, courtesy Murray Guy, New York.

"I think there’s always an element of something not quite understood in the sublime, something otherworldly, conflicting- something beautiful that’s not always beautiful, and something that’s not quite controllable and not within our reach. I don’t think that photography is made to capture and describe magic, but there are great magical moments in still photographs." - An-My Lê

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"Small Wars (lesson)", 1999-2002. Gelatin silver print, 26 x 37 1/2 inches. Edition of 5. © An-My Lê, courtesy Murray Guy, New York.

"The pictures of the reenactors shy away from some of the more subversive scenes that they performed- whether taking prisoners or their rough handling of the other camp. I didn’t find it fruitful to dwell on that or try to replicate some of the horrific moments that happened during the Vietnam War. I stayed away from that, and obviously that comes from my personal background." - An-My Lê

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"Small Wars (rescue)", 1999-2002. Gelatin silver print, 26 x 37 1/2 inches. Edition of 5. © An-My Lê, courtesy Murray Guy, New York.

"Working with Vietnam War reenactors was difficult. They had their own activities, and I needed to interrupt them to set up my pictures. And, working with the large-format camera, I had to direct them somewhat. At one point I wondered if I should hire actors- but I’m glad that I didn’t because not having complete control was very interesting. It created moments of uncertainty and forced me to resolve issues in a different way."- An-My Lê

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Small Wars (sniper II)", 1999-2002. Gelatin Silver Print, 26 x 37 1/2 inches. Edition of 5. © An-My Lê, courtesy Murray Guy, New York.

"I think each body of work grows out of the last one because you resolve something and then feel ready to move on to tackle another issue. But after my work in Vietnam it was obvious that I had still not tackled the issue of war, so when the opportunity to work with a group of people who were reenacting scenarios of the war presented itself, I took it. The Iraq War had not started, and this was the only way to deal with the idea of war- with something that had happened so long ago."- An-My Lê

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29 Palms: Colonel Greenwood", 2003-04. Gelatin silver print, 26 x 37 1/2 inches. Edition of 5. © An-My Lê, courtesy Murray Guy, New York.

"When I became a photographer one of the first things I learned from speaking to other artists who had more experience was that unless you’re a conceptual artist it’s best to draw from what you know the most. And what did I know the most? It was how much of a mess my life was, and trying to make sense of it and the questions of war and destruction- how things are still unresolved with the Vietnam War in America. That’s something I wanted to touch, as well as the representation of war in movies and, now, the war in Iraq." - An-My Lê

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"29 Palms: Infantry Officers’ Brief", 2003-04. Gelatin silver print, 26 x 37 1/2 inches. Edition of 5. © An-My Lê, courtesy Murray Guy, New York.

"My immediate impulse was to go to Iraq. But that did not work out, and when I saw pictures of marines training in Twenty-Nine Palms I thought it could be a stand-in for Iraq." - An-My Lê

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"29 Palms: Infantry Platoon, Alpha Company", 2003-04. Gelatin silver print, 26 x 37 1/2 inches. Edition of 5. © An-My Lê, courtesy Murray Guy, New York.

"The kind of work that I make is not the standard political work. It’s not agitprop. You would think, because I’ve seen so much devastation and lived through a war, that I should make something that’s outwardly antiwar." - An-My Lê

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"29 Palms: Mechanized Assault", 2003-04. Gelatin silver print, 26 x 37 1/2 inches. Edition of 5. © An-My Lê, courtesy Murray Guy, New York.

"I am not categorically against war. I was more interested in drawing people into my work to think about the issues that envelop war- representations of war, landscape and terrain in war." - An-My Lê

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"29 Palms: Night Operations III", 2003-04. Gelatin silver print, 26 x 37 1/2 inches. Edition of 5. © An-My Lê, courtesy Murray Guy, New York.

"I’m fascinated by the military structure, by strategy, the idea of a battle, the gear. But at the same time, how do you resolve the impact of it? What it is meant to do is just horrible. But war can be beautiful. I think it’s the idea of the sublime- moments that are horrific but, at the same time, beautiful- moments of communion with the landscape and nature. And it’s that beauty that I wanted to embrace in my work. I think that’s why the work seems ambiguous. And it’s meant to be." - An-My Lê

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"29 Palms: Security and Stabilization Operations, Graffiti", 2003-04. Gelatin silver print, 26 x 37 1/2 inches. Edition of 5. © An-My Lê, courtesy Murray Guy, New York.

"War is an inextricable part of the history of high civilization; I think it’s here to stay. But I also think we need to try to avoid it as much as possible. I was not so interested in making work that you see on the news page, which has the effect of wanting you to condemn war immediately. I wanted to approach the idea in a more complicated and challenging way." - An-My Lê

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"29 Palms: Security and Stabilization Operations, Marines", 2003-04. Gelatin silver print, 26 x 37 1/2 inches. Edition of 5. © An-My Lê, courtesy Murray Guy, New York.

"When I’m working with the military, I still think of myself as a landscape photographer. My main goal is to try to photograph landscape in such away that it suggests a universal history, a personal history, a history of culture. But I also wanted to address issues of preparation (moral and military). It drew me in, but at the same time it was repellent." - An-My Lê