DINH Q. LÊ, Untitled (from the series “From Vietnam to Hollywood”), 2003, C-print, linen tape, 96.5 × 183 cm. Courtesy PPOW Gallery, New York.

Dinh Q. Lê

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Over the last two decades, Dinh Q. Lê, one of Vietnam’s most distinguished living artists, has drawn attention to the mutability of human memory and the misrepresented narratives of Southeast Asian history. Lê’s multidisciplinary practice is an embodiment of his effort to come to terms with the difficult memory of fleeing the Khmer Rouge’s invasion of his hometown Hà Tiên with his family at the age of ten, and his subsequent identity as Vietnamese with an American upbringing. Having resettled in Ho Chi Minh City in 1996, he co-founded the nonprofit Sàn Art in 2007 to nurture young local artists.

Lê first garnered attention in the late 1990s for his “photo-weavings” that interlace journalistic images from the Vietnam War with the skewed renderings of the conflict created by Hollywood. Some of these weavings, such as the series “Persistence of Memory” (2000–01) were featured in Lê’s first major institutional survey in Asia, “Memory for Tomorrow” (7/25–10/12), held at the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo. The landmark exhibition included Lê’s seminal The Farmers & the Helicopters (2006), a three-channel video paired with a life-size helicopter built from scrap metal by two local Vietnamese farmers. The iconic work catapulted Lê to international acclaim after its inclusion in the 2008 Singapore Biennale. In 2010, the work was acquired by New York’s Museum of Modern Art and shown in a solo exhibition.

Lê extended his interests beyond the Vietnam War in 2015, hosting a dinner party as a performance at the Goethe Institut in Yangon where he invited political dissidents to reflect on present-day Myanmar. The aftermath of the party was exhibited as an installation at the Institut in “Building Histories” (3/1–15). Shortly after, he was the subject of a solo exhibition at Hong Kong’s 10 Chancery Lane Gallery (3/12–5/30), where he unveiled a new body of work critiquing Vietnam’s expanding tourism industry with an ironic twist. In 2016, Lê will debut his latest film project that he shot in Peru, which explores the barbaric history of guano, at Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery, and his exhibition at the Mori Art Museum will travel to the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art in March (3/19/16–5/15/16).