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Binh Danh

 (born 1977)
Binh Danh is active/lives in New York, California / Viet Nam.  Binh Danh is known for photography.

Binh Danh

Biography from the Archives of askART

Binh Danh is a Vietnamese-born photographer and artist. He immigrated with his parents to the United States in 1979.

Danh was educated at San José State University and in 2002, studied Asian American studies and achieved a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography. At the age of 25, Danh was one of the youngest artists to be invited into Stanford University's Master of Fine Arts program. He accepted this invitation and at Stanford, he studied the subject of studio art for his Master of Fine Arts.

Danh's art focuses predominately on the Vietnam War era and he has been quoted as saying that a lot of his work is involved with the theme of death. Danh has also said that the photographs he uses "bring up and start to fabricate memories" of his life in Vietnam. His images were described as being able to "summon up revulsion over present violent conflicts in the world without direct topical reference" and a critic said that his images of war scenes "evoked wars past and present with an unforced economy almost unparalleled in political art."

Danh uses a specific organic technique of his own invention to create his art, the style of which is referred as chlorophyll print. This process begins with choosing a suitable leaf; Danh prefers to use leaves from his mother's garden. Negatives of photographs are placed onto leaves, and then covered with glass to be exposed to sunlight for a period of days. If Danh is satisfied with the finished piece, it will be encapsulated permanently by being cast in a solid block of resin. Danh has articulated that throughout his education he has been "very attracted to art, history, and science" and that the processes used in his work represent his "interest in the sciences and photographic techniques." Danh has also stated that the history he searches for "are the hidden stories embedded in the landscape around" him that chlorophyll prints "capture his belief in the interconnectedness of the natural world."

"Life: Dead", a series of framed, withered leaves imprinted with images of dead soldiers, was created using photographs of American soldiers who died between May 28 and June 3, 1969, the images of which were taken from an issue of Life magazine titled "One Week's Dead", and then were digitally rendered into a negative print.

To create "Searching for the Cosmos", Danh used images downloaded from the Internet of the night sky, the negative of which were overlaid on individual leaves. The shadows of the negatives meant that the leaves were deprived of light. On one particular veined, almond-shaped leaf, named "Night Sky", this interruption in photosynthesis resulted in an image that was described as being "like the starry heavens."

To accompany an ofrenda, or offering, he produced for the Oakland Museum show in 2003, which combined photographs of the dead, candles, incense and a statue of the Buddha, Danh commented on his own culture's observance of death, "I come from a Vietnamese Buddhist background, so in my house there are many altars dedicated to many deceased relatives."

    •    Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
    •    M.H. de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA
    •    Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College, Chicago, IL
    •    Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA
    •    Rochester Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY
    •    University of California, Santa Cruz's Special Collection
    •    Eleanor D. Wilson Museum, Hollins University, Roanoke, VA
    •    North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC
    •    Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA

    •    1996 - Bank of America Achievement Award in the Field of Fine Arts, Plaque Winner, San Jose, CA
    •    1996 - Montalvo Award of Merit, Villa Montalvo, CA
    •    2000 - Lottery Grant, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
    •    2001 - Individual Grant, Belle Foundation, San Jose, CA
    •    2004 - Artist Project Award, The Center for Photographic Art, Carmel, CA
    •    2007 - Visions from the New California Award, Alliance of Artists Communities, Providence, RI


Biography from University of Wyoming Art Museum
Binh Danh (Vietnamese/Cambodian-American, b. 1977)

He has developed a unique process of printing photographic negatives into living leaves or grasses using the natural process of photosynthesis.  His chlorophyll prints are then preserved in resin.  Danh has applied this process to works that investigate his Vietnamese heritage and the memory of war in Vietnam and Cambodia.  His imagery deals with mortality, memory, history, landscape, justice, evidence, and spirituality. (BD)

The exhibit, Life, Times, and Matters of the Swamp explores the images of the war dead in Vietnam and, by powerful association to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the reportage of war today in the media.  He brilliantly uses his chlorophyll print process to forge the connection between the living and the dead.

Danh has an extensive exhibition history and is in such distinguished US public collections at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the deYoung Museum, and George Eastman House.  He is the 2010 Eureka Fellow of the Fleishhacker Foundation.

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About  Binh Danh

Born:  1977 - Vietnam
Known for:  photography