29 Palms: Captain Folsom
An-My Lê, Vietnamese, 29 Palms: Captain Folsom, 2003-2004, Gelatin silver print; Frame: 66 x 95.3 cm (26 x 37 1/2 inches), Helen M. Danforth Acquisition Fund 2007.7.2
What appears to be a rare image of American soldiers on the battlefield in Afghanistan or Iraq is, in fact, a view of Marines training for deployment at 29 Palms, the California desert Marine base. Denied permission to be embedded with the troops abroad, Lê created a provocative body of work by photographing the staged battles of recruits. She worked with a large-format camera to shoot highly detailed, subtly nuanced images, such as this one of Captain Folsom and his squad. Although she witnessed war as a teenager in Saigon, her pictures are surprisingly nonjudgmental.