Must See: Binh Danh’s "Collecting Memories" at Mills College

BINH DANH Car At Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue, Vietnam, 2009 Archival pigment print

If you’re in the Bay Area, you have to check out Binh Danh’s show, “Collecting Memories,” at Mills College in Oakland from August 1-December 12. Binh Danh’s work is stunning. Also as part of the show, Angie Chau, Truong Tran and Isabelle Thuy Pelaud will be reading at Mills College on December 1st, 7PM, at the Art Museum. Binh Danh’s artwork also graces the cover of Isabelle’s forthcoming book on Vietnamese American literature. The pictures here don’t do his work justice. Check out his website for better quality images.

From the description of the show:

Binh Danh collects photographs and other remnants of the Vietnam War and reprocesses and represents them in ways that bring new light to a complicated, multivalent history.

BINH DANH Military Foliage #2, 2010 Chlorophyll print and resin

Danh is known for his unique chlorophyll printing process in which he imprints the found portraits of war casualties and anonymous soldiers into the cells of leaves and grasses, and then embeds them in resin for preservation. While Danh left Vietnam with his family at a young age, return trips to the country have profoundly influenced the development of his work.

The My Lai Massacre Memorial at Son My Village, Vietnam, 2010 Daguerreotype encased in glass

Danh’s recent work uses a combination of found images from the Vietnam War and photographs taken by the artist on recent visits to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Using traditional 19th-century daguerreotype techniques, Danh juxtaposes these two sides of history to draw attention to the ways in which collective memory is constructed. By confronting the aftermath of war, Danh creates an opportunity to examine history through enduring memories, including residual documents of war, such as photographs. In addition to framed daguerreotypes and interactive daguerreotype books, the exhibition will include large-scale color photographs and an installation of found historical artifacts that together demonstrate the power of photography to form and shape collective memories.

Binh Danh received his MFA from Stanford University in 2004. He lives and works in San Jose, California. Binh Danh: Collecting Memories is co-curated by Lori Chinn and Stephanie Hanor.


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