Photographer uses ancient camera to win top award
HA NOI (VNS)— The Vietnamese-American photographer An My Le has been awarded a ‘Genius Grant' from the MacArthur Fellowship for her collection of photographs inspired by the war in Viet Nam.
|Old school: An My Le, a Vietnamese-American photographer, has received a ‘Genius Grant' from the MacArthur Fellowship. — Photo courtesy MacArthur Foundation
The 52-year-old received the award in recognition of her work, which "approaches the subjects of war and landscape from new perspectives to create images that blur the boundaries between fact and fiction and are rich with layers of meaning," according to the jury.
"I was born in Viet Nam and my childhood was shaded by the war," Le said. "People tend to look at war as something that is black and white, I want to destroy that idea and express the subject in different way."
Le moved to the US in 1975 and has travelled all over the world. Between 1994 and 1998 she made several trips back to Viet Nam to discover and photograph her native country in peacetime.
Since then Le has focused her photography on exploring the military conflicts that have framed the last half-century of American history: the war in Viet Nam and the war in Iraq. She approaches these events obliquely, instead of addressing her subject by creating reportage of actual conflict, she photographs places where war is psychologically anticipated, processed, and relived.
She uses a 19th century camera, as photography from that era inspires her. "I was impressed by the way war correspondents managed and used these cameras in combat fields," she said.
"Now I can use them too."
Le is one of 23 recipients of the 2012 Fellowship, granted by the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation to individuals who show exceptional creativity in their work with the prospect of more to come in the future. With each recipient receiving US$500,000, it is designed to provide scientists, writers, musicians, artists, educators, filmmakers, and various exceptional individuals with the flexibility to pursue their creative activities without having to compromise due to financial obligations. — VNS