When you read or watch the news can you tell what is real and what might be staged? President Donald Trump is fond of using the phrase ‘fake news’, but if you are in the USA and watch Fox News and CNN, you will find two entirely different views of the world, confusing to the average viewer. Which is correct? In this modern world of media manipulation and social media, how do you know what is true and what is false?
When you see photographs of the US President speaking from the White House, how do you know that he is actually and not on a realistically-clever stage set? How do natural rivers and waterways know that they are crossing man-made borders which a huge wall may well try and reinforce? How does a young child know that he supports a particular politician? How do soldiers tell the difference between their training grounds and real war? How does removing historic statues related to Confederates really make any difference to racial prejudice in the 21st century, actual events which have given the name to the exhibition of ‘Silent Generals’?
These are some of the questions that were posed by An-My Lê in her first London exhibition of photographs at the Marian Goodman Gallery, before coronavirus closed down our society with, inevitably, various claims and counterclaims about how it had actually spread from Wuhan in China. Was it generated through a bat in a wildlife market or was it something that escaped in a nearby highly sensitive research institute? No-one really knows.
Le was born in Vietnam in 1960 and moved to America in 1975. Her multi-layered photo-journalism leaves us with many questions to be unanswered in this confused and complicated world……