Vietnam’s Dinh Q. Lê explores global history and tests the boundaries of photography in his new solo exhibition in New York.

In his latest solo exhibition at P·P·O·W Gallery in New York City, opening on 24 April 2014, Dinh Q. Lê shifts the focus of his work away from his personal history, testing the boundaries of photography as a medium.

Dinh Q. Lê, 'Ezekiel's Whisper', 2014, C-Print, linen tape, 120.02 X 179.71 cm. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê, ‘Ezekiel’s Whisper’, 2014, C-print, linen tape, 120.02 X 179.71 cm. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Warf, Woof, Zero, One” is Vietnamese-American artist Dinh Q. Lê’s latest solo exhibition, running from 24 April to 24 May 2014 at P·P·O·W Gallery in New York City. The show features Lê’s latest photoweaving, sculpture and video works.

Lê is best known for his large-scale photographs and video installations that often explore his personal history, framed in the context of his country’s history of conflict and colonialism, as exemplified in “Crossing the Farther Shore” – his latest commission at Rice University Art Gallery in Houston, Texas.

Continuing to develop a practice that engages deeply with the ways in which global crises are perceived and understood, Lê’s latest body of work shifts away from personal history and focuses on developing his artistic practice by testing the boundaries of the photographic medium.

Dinh Q. Lê, 'The Last of the Alchemists', 2013, roll of chemical colour photographic paper inside silver lacquer box, 20.32 X 137.16 X 24.13 cm. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê, ‘The Last of the Alchemists’, 2013, roll of chemical colour photographic paper inside silver lacquer box, 20.32 X 137.16 X 24.13 cm. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

An homage to analogue photography

The Last of the Alchemists is an elegiac sculpture composed of a silver-leaf lacquered box. The work, reminiscent of a coffin, contains a large scroll of light-sensitive chemical photographic paper, completely sealed off from light. The paper is a symbol of the last vestige of analogue photography as we increasingly move into the digital era. The work is a sort of time capsule, as an homage to the analogue medium and a symbol of the beginning of an exciting exploration into the infinite possibilities of the digital medium.

Dinh Q. Lê, 'Untitled II', 2014, C-print, linen tape, 60 cm wide. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê, ‘Untitled I’, 2014, C-print, linen tape, 60 cm wide. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Transforming 2D into 3D

With his latest photoweavings, Lê has pushed the two-dimensional medium into three-dimensionality. Throughout his artistic career, Lê has been creating photo-tapestries featuring grid-like structures that followed neat geometrical formats. The photoweavings at P·P·O·W evoke movement and collapse through dynamic curves that create a sense of destabilisation.

Dinh Q. Lê, 'Triptych', 2014, C-print, linen tape, 328 x 120 cm. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê, ‘Triptych’, 2014, C-print, linen tape, 328 x 120 cm. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

As in his earlier oeuvre, Lê combines sourced images of various conflicts including the Vietnam War and the genocide in Cambodia with other images like Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, such as in Triptych.

Dinh Q. Lê, 'Triptych', 2014, (one of three panels), C-print, linen tape, 328 x 120 cm. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê, ‘Triptych’, 2014, (one of three panels), C-print, linen tape, 328 x 120 cm. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

The creative process, which involves cutting the images apart and weaving them together, evokes the fragmentation of history, the disappearance of one true historic moment and the representation of history as a collection of multifaceted narratives.

Dinh Q. Lê, 'A Long Losing Struggle', 2014, C-print, Linen tape, 179.71 X 120.02 cm. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê, ‘A Long Losing Struggle’, 2014, C-print, Linen tape, 179.71 X 120.02 cm. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê, 'Untitled II', 2014, C-print, linen tape, 60 cm wide. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê, ‘Untitled II’, 2014, C-print, linen tape, 60 cm wide. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Stretching to infinity

In The Scroll of Thich Quang Duc, Lê continues his exploration of historic imagery. The scroll is 164 feet long and it depicts a single image of the monk’s self-immolation in 1963. The artist digitally stretched the image in ways that would have been impossible in the era of dark room printing.

Dinh Q. Lê, 'The Scroll of Thich Quang Duc', 2013, C-print with gold lacquer box. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê, ‘The Scroll of Thich Quang Duc’, 2013, C-print with gold lacquer box. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Lê’s view of a fluid history – which accounts for a multiplicity of small moments that compose the pivotal events etched in our memory – overturns Henri-Cartier Bresson’s notion of the isolated “precise moment” caught on film. The choice of a scroll as the support, evocative of the Chinese landscape painting format, emphasises this notion of cumulative story-telling around and of a particular historical event.

Dinh Q. Lê, 'TWC in Four Moments' (Detail Still 2), 2014, four channel video, duration: 6 min. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê, ‘TWC in Four Moments’ (Still at 02m:00s), 2014, four channel video, duration: 06m:00s. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê, 'TWC in Four Moments' (Still at 1 second), 2014, four channel video, duration: 6 min. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê, ‘TWC in Four Moments’ (Still at 00m:01s), 2014, four channel video, duration: 06m:00s. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê, 'TWC in Four Moments' (Still at 3 minutes), 2014, four channel video, 6 min. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê, ‘TWC in Four Moments’ (Still at 03m:00s), 2014, four channel video, duration: 06m:00s. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Towards the new One World Trade Center

TWC in Four Moments is a four-channel video that depicts the World Trade Center in four moments: before the attack, during the attack, after the collapse and during the re-building. Each video contains a 200-metre Photoshop-stretched version of the WTC image, which is then put through AfterEffects to create six-minute abstract works. All iconic associations with 9/11 are removed to lead the viewer to reconsider the events as a slow progression of moments that led to the trauma and the rebuilding of the new One WTC.

Dinh Q. Lê, 'TWC in Four Moments' (Still at 5.52 minutes), 2014, four channel video, duration: 6 min. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê, ‘TWC in Four Moments’ (Still at 05m:52s), 2014, four channel video, duration: 06m:00s. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê, 'TWC in Four Moments' (Detail Still 1), 2014, four channel video, duration: 6 min. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê, ‘TWC in Four Moments’ (Detail Still 01m:00s), 2014, four channel video, duration: 06m:00s. Image courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, New York.

C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia

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Related Topics: Vietnamese artists, photography, video, sculpture, gallery shows, picture feasts, events in New York

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Brittney

By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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