Binh Danh: In the Eclipse of Angkor
November 7, 2010–January 30, 2011
Binh Danh, Iridescence of life #14, 2008, chlorophyll print on nasturtium, Papilio Rumanzovia butterfly specimen, and resin, 12 x 10 in., Courtesy of the artist and the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University, © 2008 Binh Danh More images Transitional Divinities Young Ghost
In the Eclipse of Angkor presents new work by Binh Danh, including chlorophyll prints, found butterfly specimens, and Daguerreotypes. Danh has emerged as an artist of national and international importance with work that investigates his Vietnamese American heritage and the collective memory of war, specifically in Vietnam and Cambodia. Danh states that he uses his photographs, appropriating and transforming archival images, as a method of fabricating memories. His family rarely discussed the Vietnam War while he was growing up, and he has very few personal memories of that time because he was only two years old when they left in 1979. He went back to Vietnam for the first time in 1999 and now visits the region regularly. Danh’s work reconstructs memory and history, both personal and collective, and his methods and materials comment on the fragility and elusive nature of both.
This exhibition focuses on Danh’s recent works, which document and interpret the genocide that took place in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. This body of work stemmed from a trip in 2008 to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Choeung Ek, the site of the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge; and Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s famous Khmer temple.
To create his unique “chlorophyll prints,” Danh starts by selecting a suitable leaf, then places the leaf on a felt-covered board and rests a photographic negative directly on the leaf. The negative is chosen from Danh’s collection of archival images that he has saved from magazines and other sources. Danh then places a sheet of glass over the leaf and exposes the leaf and negative to sunlight for a variable period of time—sometimes a week, sometimes several days—and lets the photosynthesis process of the sun and the leaf create the images. His most recent work uses the Daguerreotype process, the early 19th-century photographic process that also produces a single print that cannot be duplicated.
Binh Danh: In the Eclipse of Angkor is part of the Museum’s ongoing commitment to present work by internationally recognized contemporary artists and to highlight the variety and historical depth of art and artists from diverse cultures and regions represented in the Museum’s permanent collection.
Organized by the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University. The exhibition and accompanying publication were made possible by the Frances Niederer Artist-in-Residence Fund, Hollins University. In Raleigh support is provided by the North Carolina Museum of Art Friends of Photography. This exhibition is also made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.