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Baltimore Museum of Art opens new Front Room & Black Box Contemporary exhibitions
An-My Lê. Untitled, Hanoi. 1995. Courtesy the Artist and Murray Guy, New York.

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.

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.”

An-My Lê (Vietnam, born 1960) is a photographer that lives and works in New York. A 2012 winner of the MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” Lê received BAS and MS degrees in biology from Stanford University (1981, 1985) and an MFA from Yale University (1993). She has received many awards, including fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1997) and the New York Foundation for the Arts (1996). She has had one-person exhibitions at Dia Beacon (2006), and at PS1/MoMA (2002), and a traveling exhibition was organized and circulated by the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College, Chicago (2006). She was included in MoMA’s New Photography series in 1997.

Gerard Byrne (Irish, born 1969) was born in Dublin where he continues to live and work. In 2007, he was the Irish representative for the 52nd Venice Biennale, and has had solo exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; the Irish Museum of Art, Dublin; the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago; and The Whitechapel Gallery, London. A Fulbright Scholar, Byrne was awarded the prestigious PS1 studio award in 1997-98, and graduated from the Whitney Independent Study Program in 1999. The artist has participated in group exhibitions including: Documenta (13), Kassel Germany (2012); Performa 11, New York City (2011); Gwanju Biennial, Korea (2008); Sydney Biennial (2008), Lyon Biennial (2007); the 3rd Tate Triennial, Tate Britain, London; Istanbul Biennale (2003); and Manifesta 4 (2002).

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