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 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. 

In Fragment IX: Jefferson Davis Monument, Homeland Security Storage, New Orleans, Louisiana, from Silent General a bronze portrait of Jefferson Davis (1808–1889)—a vocal advocate of slavery and the first and only president of the Confederate States of America, which existed from 1861 to 1865—is shown wrapped, crated, and sequestered in storage. 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. As Lê has done for years, she evokes layers of contested histories through her seemingly everyday scenes, posing questions about not only what is represented, but how and for whom