Dinh Le

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
used 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
deal 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
for 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
photographic 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

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
opinions 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