press release

Nancy Spero, Martha Rosler, Dinh Q. Lê, and Binh Danh featured in a Historic Exhibition with Six Vietnamese Artists from the American-Vietnam War Era.

The Drawing Center will present Persistent Vestiges: Drawing from the American-Vietnam War, a two-part exhibition that brings together work by Vietnamese and American artists from the war-era and the present day. The Drawing Center’s exhibition will be significant in its juxtaposition of artists from different generations who approach the subject of the war from various perspectives.

Persistent Vestiges features American artists actively involved in questioning the war, artists who traveled with the North Vietnamese Army during the war, and young VietnameseAmerican artists who address the war and its aftermath. Working from a variety of sources, the artists use collage, montage, printing, weaving, embroidery, traditional pen and pencil drawing, and photographic techniques to capture their personal experiences and reflections on the war. In the main gallery, a site-specific work of hand-printed helicopters and victims by Nancy Spero (b. 1926) and photocollages from the series Bringing the War Home (1967-1972) by Martha Rosler will be in dialogue with hand-woven photoworks on paper and embroidered drawings on linen by Dinh Q. Lê (b. 1968) and works drawn by light on leaves by Binh Danh (b. 1977). The Drawing Room at 40 Wooster Street will feature selections from Spero's War Series (1966-1970) and drawings from the frontlines of the war by Vietnamese artists Nguyen Cong Do, Nguyen Thu, Nguyen Van Da, Quang Tho, Truong Hieu, and Vu Giang Huong.

Persistent Vestiges takes place at a timely moment of renewed remembrance for the war, as 2005 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the tenth anniversary of the normalization of relations between the United States and Vietnam. The Drawing Center’s exhibition is curated by Catherine de Zegher, Executive Director, with assistance by Katherine Carl, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Exhibitions.

Persistent Vestiges will highlight different means in which drawing is used to record traumatic events. Many of the artists were strongly influenced by media images from the war. Photo-journalism, propaganda, and popular culture all contributed to an unprecedented role for visual imagery to shape emotionally charged reactions to the war and impressions of the war that remain today. This is seen in Nancy Spero’s War Series (begun in 1966), in which the artist appropriated images prevalent in American media coverage, especially helicopters. Martha Rosler, in Bringing the War Home (1967-1972), integrated indelible news photographs of the war’s acts of violence into domestic scenes from American women’s magazines. Dinh Q. Lê—whose hometown at the border of Vietnam and Cambodia was invaded by the Khmer Rouge—also creates works on paper with manipulated photographs, including images of victims of the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror. Using similar sources and a uniquely “natural” photographic technique, Binh Danh creates images drawn by light onto actual leaves from his native Vietnam, connecting the people to the land. The war-era drawings of the North Vietnamese artists, however, forego images of human suffering and focus on communal experiences of war and daily routines of soldiers and civilians. The realistic style and documentary approach of these drawings results in works that straddle the boundary between reportage and propaganda. The works in the Drawing Room will be on view through December 21, 2005, while the main gallery exhibition will continue through February 11, 2006.

PUBLICATION To accompany the exhibition, The Drawing Center will publish a substantial catalog that will continue the important dialogue between Vietnamese and American artists in a contemporary context. The 176-page publication will feature 100 color illustrations, an introduction by Catherine de Zegher and Katherine Carl, and essays by Moira Roth, Trefethen Professor of Art History, Mills College, and Boreth Ly, Assistant Professor of Asian Art and Visual Culture, University of Utah. The publication will also include a historical chronology compiled by Kavior Moon and annotated with quotes from the exhibiting artists. The catalog for Persistent Vestiges will be available in December 2005


Persistent Vestiges: Drawing from the American-Vietnam War
Kurator: Catherine de Zegher

mit Nancy Spero, Martha Rosler, Dinh Q. Le, Binh Danh
und: Nguyen Cong Do, Nguyen Thu, Nguyen Van Da, Quang Tho, Truong Hieu, Vu Giang Huong