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Binh Danh | nga

Binh Danh (American, b. 1977 Vietnam) uses alternative printing techniques to explore the relationship between history, memory, and the landscape. His interest in the power of photography to define the past and construct national identity unites his studies of the Vietnam-American War, Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime, and Yosemite National Park. Upon visiting Vietnam as an adult, Danh recognized that remnants from the war were still visible in the country’s landscape. Seeking to convey this lasting imprint of the conflict as well as our collective memories of it, Danh began printing negatives of mass-media photographs of the war onto natural supports, such as leaves and grass, using “chlorophyll printing,” a process he invented, which transfers photographic images by means of photosynthesis. On a subsequent trip to Cambodia, Danh visited sites connected to the genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge regime. The trip inspired a series based in part on the regime’s own interrogation photographs of prisoners. Creating both chlorophyll prints and daguerreotypes, one of the first photographic processes that yields a highly detailed, mirrorlike surface, Danh’s works are altars or memorials to the prisoners and, in his words, provide “a proper homage to the legacy of their life.” Danh turned to the daguerreotype process once more when photographing the iconic sites of Yosemite, first brought into the American imaginary by Carleton Watkins in the 1860s and popularized by Ansel Adams in the 20th century.