Dinh Q. Lê (Vietnamese American, b. 1968) weaves together—both literally and figuratively—personal recollections with larger histories and mythologies often related to the Vietnam War, also known as the American War in Lê’s native country. For Projects 93, Lê presents The Farmers and The Helicopters (2006), an installation comprised of a three-channel video and a helicopter hand-built from scrap parts by Le Van Danh, a farmer, and Tran Quoc Hai, a self-taught mechanic. Lê’s video interlaces the personal recollections of the war by Vietnamese locals with clips from Western films. While many of the interviewees relay childhood memories of the horrors associated with helicopters during the war, the helicopter-makers share their vision of this machine as a means to make a better life for the Vietnamese people and bring strength to their community. Installed in adjacent galleries, the helicopter and the video projection offer a multilayered insight into the complex relationships between the Vietnamese individuals and the charged object of the helicopter.
Organized by Klaus Biesenbach, MoMA’s Chief Curator at Large and Director of P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center; and Cara Starke, Assistant Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art.