Doctoral candidate Mallory Nanny presented a paper at the Sixth Biennial Symposium for the Association of Historians of American Art (AHAA), jointly hosted by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the University of Maryland, College Park, October 14-15. Mallory was one of three presenters in the session “Imperialism,” moderated by Leslie Ureña of the National Portrait Gallery. Her paper, entitled “An-My Lê’s Small Wars: Re-enacting Memories of an Ongoing War,” was pre-recorded at her home and posted on the conference website for members of AHAA and the conference’s virtual attendees, while the Q&A with the presenters was live-streamed on the 15th.
Mallory also received a departmental Mason Dissertation Research Award for research travel in Vietnam next year. Her dissertation examines how Vietnamese American artists An-My Lê and Tiffany Chung and American artist Jessica Hines reconstruct fragmented memories into photo-based narratives of the wartime experience. In addition to Lê’s Small Wars (1999 – 2002), which records Vietnam War reenactments in Virginia and North Carolina, Mallory is researching Hines’s photobook My Brother’s War (2010), and Chung’s wall installation Remapping History: an autopsy of a battle, an excavation of a man’s past (2015 – 18) as case studies. The latter two works conflate documentation of the war with photographs from the artists’ own experiences traveling to Vietnam in the postwar period.
Mallory has determined that the Vietnamese landscape is central to the visual narratives inherent in these works. She will conduct on-site research to locate the artists’ exact positions in relation to the places they photographed, allowing her to draw conclusions about the relationships between spaces, the sequence of photos with respect to narrative order, and the ways in which the works represent sites of memory in the postwar context. Mallory plans to travel to Chu Lai, Da Nang, Dong Ha, Savanakhet (Laos), Ho Chi Minh City, and the former airfields in and around An Loc.