Dinh Le: Art With Reality

The reality Dinh Le illustrates in his artwork appears to foster a subjective sense of uniqueness while containing a deeper, more intimate meaning. As Le first arrived in the United States in 1979, he also brought with him the culture and experiences of his country, Vietnam. He portrays his experiences and thoughts through photographs, installations, exhibits, and real-life performance arts. Though his discipline may not always offer financial stability (as Le discussed at Lecture), it serves as an ample platform to express his personal messages and feelings.

As Le originally aspired to become a Computer Scientist at the University of California at Santa Barbara, it is in the craft of art, mainly photography, where Le found the opportunity to unveil the thoughts and experiences of his childhood from Vietnam. Though a great detail of Les work consists of personal representations, he also exhibits a lineage of Vietnamese antiquity relating to the war. In the article, Dinh Q. Le at the Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies, Christopher Miles describes Les art to potentially hold a deeper, symbolic meaning.

In describing Les, The Headless Buddha, Miles the work as a result of a sad set of circumstances and a potent metaphor for the broader issues these circumstances reflect (Artweek, April 1998). Dinh Les artwork involves a great amount of cultural importance, in terms of, introducing a new innovative art form, as well as referencing cultural and historical context. Perhaps the signifying aspects of Dinh Les artwork are his inter-woven photographs.

Dinh Le recounts where he learned this trait in his interview with Allan deSouza, my aunt used to do grass mat weaving, and when I was young I sed to watch her and just learned how to do it over the years (The Headless Buddha, LACPS exhibition catalogue, February 1998). Though Le nonchalantly describes this photo weaving technique, others like Claudine Ise of the Los Angeles Times, praise the originality of Les technique.

Ise reports, Reproductions dont do justice to Dinh Q. Les mind blowing photo weavings at Los Angeles Center for Photographic StudiesTheres a psychedelic quality to the finished weavings (Headless Buddha Weaves History, Myth, March 1998). Aside from the aesthetic novelty of Les artwork, there is also a great eal of reference to the cultural and social context from Les life. In his artwork entitled Mother and Child, Le interweaves photos of his family, to represent changing generations, along with religious context. According to Chattopadhyay, Dinh Q. Le blends culture, history, and time (Dinh Q. Le at Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies, Asian Art News, March/April 1998).

Les culture is not only exhibited through the family photos or the religious context, but it is also seen through the make of the art piece itself. The fact that Le wove the photos together was an idea routed back to his aunt in Vietnam. The composition of the photo infers cultural reference. Another aspect of cultural importance in Les work is exhibited through his performance arts and installations. His profound statements about national and political agendas carry many different forms, ranging from banners and posters to a self-owned store.

As Le had discussed during lecture, he created a little store at Ho chi Minh city, in the communist country of Vietnam. His main idea or doing this was to display his controversial artwork, regarding birth defects, without the Vietnamese government having direct knowledge of his intentions. As his intentions was to expose the defoliant Agent Orange which have caused alarming birth-defects, he sold deformed Siamese twin dolls with the names of U. S. corporations who produced the chemical. With a bit of humor, Le profoundly exposed the serious subject of birth defects through his surreptitious installation.

According to Barry Schwabsky of Artforum, This action was clearly of more agitational in nature than Les hotographic work, but its specifically artistic intention is marked by the decision to stage the piece in the Ho Chi Minh market rather than in a local gallery (Dinh Q. Le, Artforum, February 1999). Dinh Les cultural awareness may be regarded as consequential as he exemplifies personal beliefs and standings through his art, whether created in the form of photos or installations, which leave it open to interpretations and analyzation. Though the majority of Les work gives reference to Vietnamese culture, his audience remains to be broad.

His work entails a viewer or listener with an pinions and feedback of his artwork. Opening a store in Ho Chi Minh city to use as a stage or platform shows that Les potential audiences are average, day to day citizens. Les intention was to capture the attention people, and to share the different views of Vietnamese culture. In retrospect, one question I would have formulated for Dinh Le, before the session ended, is whether or not his ideas and representations of Vietnamese culture conflict with other Asian, primarily Vietnamese, artists/writers. Are his views, necessarily, shared views?

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