The American War
White Columns Gallery
320 West 13th Street (entrance on Horatio St.)
May 05–June 10
Harrel Fletcher was profoundly affected by visiting the War Remnants Museum in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), as I was when I was there last year. It was incredible to see the war - which in Vietnam is called the American War - through Vietnamese eyes. Harrell went back and photographed the entire exhibition along with all the labels and created a bootleg version which has toured around the United States. Kind of like how the Vietnamese have created bootleg versions of books, by photocopying and binding tomes by Robert McNamara et al which you can buy outside the War Remnants Museum from landmine victims.
"In June 2005 I was in Vietnam for a month as part of an international artists retreat. While I was there I visited The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, which is a memorial museum for what is referred to in Vietnam as 'The American War'. I was so affected by what I saw at the museum that I went back several times and eventually photographed all of the images and text descriptions from the main museum - over two hundred photos. I used my digital camera and took the shots hand held at off angles to avoid reflections, so the images have an oddly casual quality but are still accurate representations of the material depicted at the museum, with a similarly horrifying quality. Even though many of the images were familiar to me, seeing them all together and presented from the Vietnamese perspective was very striking. It made me realize that I didn't know much about the details of the war that had consumed the U.S for most of my early childhood. I started researching the history of the war in an attempt to understand why it happened and what its effects were on the region and in regards to U.S policy. The museum and my re-presentations of it are only showing one perspective, there are many others. I encourage everyone to do their own research and find out more about The American War in Vietnam and all of the other American Wars that have been happening ever since, sometimes covertly and other times, as in the current situation in Iraq, outrageously overtly, but hidden at the same time."
Link to White Columns gallery in New York
Link to Harrell Fletcher's website
Link to all the pictures presented in The American War