An-My Lê

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

Tucked between an installation of greatest hits from SF MoMA’s permanent collection and a show of Italian photographer Gabriele Basilico’s images of Silicon Valley, An-My Lê’s exhibition “Small Wars” is easy to miss. The exhibition, which consists of forty-seven large-format photographs of men playing war, includes two bodies of work about conflicts that are, in the American consciousness, anything but diminutive: The series “Small Wars,” 1999–2002, depicts a reenactment of Vietnam War battles in the forests of Virginia, and “29 Palms,” 2003– , records military exercises at Twenty-nine Palms (the largest Marine Corps base in the United States) in preparation for tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The works may be timely in subject matter, but they are anachronistic in technique: Lê uses a five-by-seven-inch view camera that requires shots to be rigorously composed (indeed, Lê traveled

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