Fletcher’s project, The American War, is a re-presentation of The War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. While on a recent visit the artist was affected by the museum (to what is called the American War in Vietnam) and became interested in instigating discussions about the war in the United States. The resulting project presents the museum refracted though Fletcher’s lens along with relevant material offering other perspectives.
Thick wood walls enclose and bisect the gallery, lending it the look and feel of a municipal organization. Walking through a doorway, viewers encounter more than one-hundred framed images Fletcher took of the museum’s documentary photographs and their bilingual didactic panels. The troubling pictures of torture, birth defects, and decimated forests bear witness to gruesome effects of American tactics on the people and land of Vietnam. The skewed angles of each emphasize the snapshot quality of the appropriation and the artist’s hand.
Just outside the doors Fletcher displays material collected from Ho Chi Minh City and San Antonio. Featured are copies of texts from the library, photos of the museum’s grounds, a Vietnamese bootleg of an American bestseller about the war, and vestiges of the public programs the artist initiated in conjunction. Fletcher historicizes these relics with information about connections to his project.
The American War makes visible a multitude of voices about this international issue, suggesting that art can and does make a difference beyond the art world.