Framing Absence: Photographic Narratives of the Vietnam War


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Art History

Named Award

Ellen Holtzman Fellow named award


This project examines postwar artistic engagements with storytelling that represent the traumatic impact of the Vietnam War in transnational terms. It analyzes photographic series by Vietnamese American artists An-My LĂȘ (b. 1960) and Tiffany Chung (b. 1969) and non-Vietnamese American artist Jessica Hines (b. 1958) as case studies that reconstruct fragmented memories and critical experiences into complex, diaristic narratives. Through borrowing narrational strategies from oral history, each artist conflates the portrayal of immediate trauma experienced during war with the secondary trauma inherited by family members. What results are narrative gaps that speak directly to the unknown traumas and silenced voices of those who remain absent. By using the photographic medium, these artists not only highlight the subjectivity of truth, but they also point to the tenuous connections between remembering and imagining and show that collective memory is full of omissions.