Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- Untitled is part of Dinh Q. Lê’s series, “From Vietnam to Hollywood.” It is made up of woven-together stills from the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, the logo of a Hollywood movie studio, and a photograph (taken during the Vietnam War) of a woman and a young boy.
- Lê’s work explores different perspectives and the ways in which people understand history based on context, experience, and memory.
- Untitled combines photos of real people who lived in Vietnam during the war with images of actors in a Hollywood film about the Vietnam War.
- The Vietnam War was a conflict between North and South Vietnam and their allies between 1955 and 1975.
Artist Dinh Q. Lê, who was born in Vietnam, often explores the country’s political and cultural history in his work. Untitled is part of his series, “From Vietnam to Hollywood.” In this series Lê weaves together black-and-white photographs from Vietnam (taken during the Vietnam War) with color film stills from a popular Hollywood movie about the war.
Untitled features images of actors in the 1979 movie Apocalypse Now combined with photographs (that the artist believes were taken in the 1970s) of a young Vietnamese boy and woman. Lê’s interwoven images show very different perspectives of the same event. Like other works in his series, Untitled explores how context, experience, and memory can affect the ways people view and remember history.
The Vietnam War was a long and deadly conflict that defined most of the 1960s and 1970s. The war was between North and South Vietnam. Both sides wanted a unified country, but there was conflict about how the country should be ruled. North Vietnam favored communist politics while South Vietnam favored the politics of the West. The United States aligned with South Vietnam and sent troops there for support in 1954. As the war raged on and thousands of American and Vietnamese soldiers died, anti war protests spread throughout both countries. In 1974 the United States and North Vietnam reached a peace agreement that ended the war. The conflict in Vietnam, however, continued for years. Nearly two million people died in the Vietnam War. The war also caused lasting psychological and economic damage for many of the people involved.
Hollywood has made hundreds of movies about the Vietnam War. Many of them (including Apocalypse Now) attempt to show “realistic” portrayals of the war, but they also glamorize and generalize the experiences of real people who lived and died in Vietnam during the war.
Resources for Teachers:
- Read an article about the Vietnam War.
- Watch a video about the artist and his work.
- Read an article about Lê’s Crossing the Farther Shore installation, which explores similar concepts.
Resources for Students: