For more than two decades, acclaimed photographer An-My Lê has created arresting, poetic photographic series that address the power and theater of war and politics. Informed by the histories of landscape photography, documentary reportage, and conflict journalism, Lê’s work offers a reflection on how reality and myth are portrayed and contested.

Since 2015, Lê’s ongoing Silent General series documents a wide range of events marking the fever pitch of American political and social conflict, from the removal of Confederate monuments to immigration and gun control. Prompted by the horrific mass shooting and murder in 2015 of nine Black churchgoers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, Lê embarked upon an extended road trip to record the complexity of the unfolding moment in the United States and its relationships to longer histories.

Fragment IV: General Robert E. Lee Monument, New Orleans, Louisiana, from Silent General (2016) locates a monument of Confederate General Robert E. Lee (1807–1870) at the end of a tree-lined street partially under construction in New Orleans. The statue was later taken down by official order and moved to an undisclosed location in 2017. Lê’s photograph evokes the ideological shifts of this transitional moment, as the elegant street with its streetlamp of an earlier time undergoes reconstruction. Here, the artist captures the intense contestation around monuments and history, their relationships to white supremacy and white Christian nationalism, and a widespread public reckoning of race and power in the United States.