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Binh Danh | Tours of Duty Artist Talk

November 21, 2020 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Free – $12.00
soldier printed on grass

As part of our series highlighting the artists of Tours of Duty, we are excited to invite you to an afternoon conversation with photographer Binh Danh. Showcasing two different series on the walls of the Griffin, Danh will discuss One Week’s Dead and Military Foliage. Danh’s work is featured among the other talented artists on the walls of the Griffin.

Join us on Saturday November 21st at 4:00pm Eastern time for a discussion about Binh’s creative path, and focus on the internal conflicts of war.

The event is FREE for Griffin Members, and $12 for Non Members. Not a member? Join us  for great programming and events like this and support the Griffin.

Military Foliage statement is excerpted from an essay by Lori Chinn, Curator Mills College Art Gallery

“Military Foliage is an installation of framed chlorophyll prints. The series illustrates camouflage patterns that the military uses for their uniforms. Camouflage attire is meant to render the invaders less visible in hostile territory. Danh also prints the patterns onto living tropical leaves through the process of photosynthesis, embedding them with artificial designs, so that, ironically, nature is now masked. According to Danh, the remnants of war still exist in the landscape and the plants act as witnesses to the violence that has taken place on one country’s soil, “The landscape of Vietnam contains the residue of the war, blood, sweat, tears, and human remains. The dead have been incorporated into the soil of Vietnam through the cycles of birth, life, and death, the transformation of elements, and the creation of new life forms….

In addition, jungle foliage often served to conceal the North Vietnamese, both military and passive civilians, triggering the devastating defoliation campaigns with Agent Orange.” – Lori Chinn

One Week’s Dead
statement is excerpted from an essay by Laura A. Guth, Associate Director at Light Work from 2007.

“Regardless of generation, cultural background, or level of direct involvement with war, we cannot escape being touched by the faces in Binh Danh’s series, titled One Week’s Dead. Danh collects photographs and other remnants of the Vietnam War and reprocesses them in a way that brings new light to a history marked by painful memories. A main source of the images is the 1969 Life magazine article, Faces of the American Dead: One Week’s Dead.1Portraits of two hundred forty-two young American men, casualties in one week of the war, were presented in a yearbook style layout, triggering a powerful public response: “the entire nation mourned those soldiers…you saw those faces, that’s what brought it home to everyone.”2

Danh returns these faces to the public’s attention nearly four decades later. Using photosynthesis, he incorporates the portraits into the cells of leaves and grasses, symbolic of the jungle itself bearing witness to scars of war that remain in the landscape. Danh’s method is based on a principle as simple as leaving a water hose on the lawn too long. The cells in leaves react to light by turning dark green, or the absence of light by turning pale. Danh is able to create images onto leaves, not by printing onto them, but by capturing the image within the leaves. By imprinting faces of war casualties and anonymous soldiers from the battlefield, Danh encapsulates remnants of history in the biological memory of plant cells. Through this process, he recycles collected news images and snapshots from an isolated past and memorializes them in the present. The final product, leaves embedded in resin, transform the source images into precious, yet permanent artifacts…..”  – Laura A. Guth

About Binh Danh

Binh Danh (MFA Stanford; BFA San Jose State University) emerged as an artist of national importance with work that investigates his Vietnamese heritage and our collective memory of war. His technique incorporates his invention of the chlorophyll printing process, in which photographic images appear embedded in leaves through the action of photosynthesis. His newer body of work focuses on nineteenth-century photographic processes, applying them in an investigation of battlefield landscapes and contemporary memorials. A recent series of daguerreotypes celebrated the United States National Park system during its anniversary year.

His work is in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The DeYoung Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Center for Creative Photography, the George Eastman Museum and many others. He received the 2010 Eureka Fellowship from the Fleishhacker Foundation, and in 2012 he was featured artist at the 18thBiennale of Sydney in Australia. He is represented by Haines Gallery, San Francisco, CA and Lisa Sette Gallery in Phoenix, AZ. He lives and works in San Jose, CA and teaches photography at San Jose State University.


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November 21, 2020
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Free – $12.00
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