Critics’ Picks

Dinh Q. Lê, The Headless Buddhas of Angkor, 2012, fifteen digital prints, overall 10' 9 3/8“ x 12' x 9 3/4”.

Los Angeles

Dinh Q. Lê

Shoshana Wayne Gallery
1541 Ocean Ave Suite 200
May 12 - July 14

Time appears to collapse before our eyes on the textured surfaces of Dinh Q. Lê’s latest woven photographs. Lê’s technique of interlacing, which is based on a traditional Vietnamese weaving technique, hasn’t lost any of its power since the early 1990s, when he began to exhibit works made in this way. Here, framed photo-weavings are presented in horizontal groupings or vertical stacks. Black-and-white photographs, cut into strips, are woven together to create composites; ancient Sumerian ruins (in modern-day Iraq) and contemporary pictures of Iraqi citizens, culled from the Internet, are threaded together; images of the temples of Angkor Wat are fused with portraits of Cambodians killed by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s.

Folly and valor are simultaneously commemorated in the depictions of gods and kings that march across the ancient friezes and in the visages of victims of both war and dubious expansionism. The walls of ancient Sumerian and Cambodian temples seem not so much revived as revealed, as if they had sat untouched for centuries, while the faces peering out and through carved stone—mysterious survivors of the rise and fall of civilizations—have a timeless, ghostly quality.

All of the works save one are monochromatic weavings of black-and-white photographs. The sole piece among ten that is not woven, The Headless Buddhas of Angkor, 2012, is a montage of fifteen framed photographs of statues of the Buddha found in the temples of Angkor Wat. Seven are draped in vibrant gold, red, or orange sashes. The stately ethereal figures metaphorically lend their bulk to the faces seen throughout stone ruins in the woven works, as if the ancient carved Buddhas provided mythic-corporeal stand-ins for those that died and those that survived.