- August 19
was born in a fishing town in southern Vietnam in 1977, two years
after the close of the war. In 1979 he and his family escaped
the country on a boat and were placed in a refugee camp in Malaysia.
Eventually the Danh family emigrated to the U.S. and settled in
San Jose, California. Danh was raised in a traditional Vietnamese
household, where much of the family's Buddhist practice focused
on the worship of ancestors, thus meditating on death and its
influence on the living. The themes of mortality, memory, and
spirituality became a lifelong inspiration for Danh and a primary
influence on his artistic development.
As a college student
Danh invented a unique process for transferring photographic images
onto the surfaces of leaves via photosynthesis, yielding what
he termed "chlorophyll
prints." This was an interesting new mode of expression for
Danh, but it was his first return trip to Vietnam that catalyzed
a revelatory body of work. There he was confronted by the subtle
but ubiquitous physical remains of the war, such as bomb craters
now converted into rice paddies. Danh observed that the tacit
memories of the war's devastation were internalized in daily life.
In order to articulate his reaction, Danh makes chlorophyll
prints of archival images of the Vietnam War with tropical
leaves, sharing his epiphany that the memory of those people and
events will reverberate forever through the country's landscape.