Dinh Q Lê (b. 1968, Ha Tien, Vietnam) possesses a diverse practice that is mindful of the complex interweaving of official and non-official histories, particularly in the minds of those who have undergone events whose facts are given little humanity. He is concerned with how history is recorded and institutionalized, how these archives fail in the telling of pain and loss, of the ensuing absence felt not only in the physical destruction of object and place, but also in the psychological battle of the exile, the refugee or the asylum seeker. Lê’s work challenges the digital age in its surplus of representational data, using his art to press pause on its minefield of images to force, expand, and reflect upon the significance of each individual image.
Lê received his BA in Art studio at UC Santa Barbara in 1989 and his MFA in Photography and Related Media at The School of Visual Arts in New York City in 1992. In 2007, Lê co-founded San Art (alongside Tuan Andrew Nguyen, Phu Nam Thuc Ha, and Tiffany Chung). This non-profit art organization remains committed to furthering dialog, expertise, production and showcase of critical experimentations in contemporary art from Vietnam and abroad.
Dinh Q Lê is considered one of Vietnam’s most established artists whose practice has an extensive exhibition history worldwide. He lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
'Light and Belief' is a documentary of a chapter in Vietnamese art history – where arts intertwine with socio-political and historical happenings to tell the story of a nation and its people, who have suffered but still stand firmly to hope and reach towards a better future. Dinh Q Lê has delicately led the conversations with the seniors artists about their experiences witnessing the fate of the Vietnamese people who entered the war with determination and bravery. The artists shared with Lê their process of depicting life during battles (grieving and acknowledging the pain, but choosing to focus on positive scenes instead) and their sense of responsibilities in uplifting the spirit of soldiers (via both heartfelt conversations and propagandic arts). Lê has blended scenes of the senior artists themselves becoming animated sketches in between interviews, to convey the message that the artists are history-weavers – a generation that silently contributed to their country.
Theme: Special Feature: Vietnam
'Vision in Darkness' reveals the life and work of Vietnamese artist, Tran Trung Tin (1933-2008), a short-film that begins with Tran’s bold public withdrawal from the Hanoi Film Studio and the Communist Party in 1975 via telegram. Born in Saigon along the Mekong Delta, Tran’s unique life journey traverses his trials and tribulations as soldier, actor, Communist Party Secretary, and artist. As director, Dinh Q Lê interviews several individuals in this documentary, who reveal Tran as a character of principle, who was not only socially ostracized from family and friends for his disavowal of Vietnam’s dominating political ideology, but also was never accepted as an artist by his artistic community due to his revelry in abstraction, a form of experimentation discouraged by the official art establishment of Vietnam at that point. It was Tran’s frustration with this control of artistic expression and production, its lack of truth in reflecting the dilemma’s of the Vietnamese people, that emboldened his immersion in abstraction.
Theme: Special Feature: Vietnam