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Exhibitions of works by American photographer An-My Lê and Irish artist Gerard Byrne are presented in the renovated Contemporary Wing

BALTIMORE, MD – The Baltimore Museum of Art’s changing Contemporary Wing exhibitions continue to embrace the art and artists of our time with two new dynamic presentations this fall. Front Room: An-My Lê, on view October 9 – February 23, 2014, investigates ideas of war and the military through 21 large-scale black-and-white and color photographs. Black Box: Gerard Byrne on view October 16 – February 9, 2014, uses film and photography that evoke the Loch Ness Monster to play with the idea that the personal belief of the viewer can be as powerful as the reality captured in a photo. The exhibitions are organized by BMA Associate Curator of Prints, Drawings & Photographs Ann Shafer and BMA Curator of Contemporary Art Kirsten Hileman.

An-My Le. Manning the Rail, USS Tortuga, Java Sea. 2010. Courtesy the Artist and Murry Guy, New York
An-My Le. Manning the Rail, USS Tortuga, Java Sea. 2010. Courtesy the Artist and Murry Guy, New York

American photographer An-My Lê’s (born 1960, Vietnam) work examines the multi-layered roles the military plays across a variety of settings without focusing on actual combat or war zones. Regarding herself as a landscape photographer, she frames her subjects on immense backdrops to highlight the tension between the power of the natural world and the force of humans and their machines. Lê and her family came to the United States as political refugees in 1975 during the final year of the Vietnam War, which has had a strong impact on her work. Her most recent series, Events Ashore (2005-present), features large color images taken on board aircraft carriers and hospital ships where the U.S. has military outposts, is supporting scientific missions, or is engaged in humanitarian aid. Works from three earlier series explore the disjunction between wars as historical events and the ubiquitous representation of war in contemporary entertainment, politics, and collective consciousness. Vietnam (1994-98) includes images of life in that country, such as kites flying in a large field, which could look more ominous to someone with memories of that conflict. Small Wars (1999-2002) shows Vietnam War reenactors in Virginia and North Carolina engaging in what some may consider a bizarre hobby. 29 Palms (2003-04) reveals preparations for deployment to Iraq amidst the grand desert landscape at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in 29 Palms, California.

Gerard Byrne’s Case Study: Loch Ness (Some possibilities and problems) is drawn from 10 years of documentation at Loch Ness in Scotland inspired by the mysterious monster that is said to inhabit the waters there. A 16 mm film and a selection of photographs allow viewers to decide for themselves what they are or are not viewing, and what they do and do not want to believe. The film relates the accounts of individuals who claim to have seen the elusive creature. The photographs are fragments, showing different angles of the mysterious lake and its surroundings: a swimmer’s cocked arm, old fence posts lining a narrow path lakeside, and trees camouflaging the water all evoke the famous “Nessie.”

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