Untitled woven photograph by Dinh Q. Le. (Gene Ogami/Shoshana Wayne…)
In one of many stunning works in Dinh Q. Lê's show at Shoshana Wayne, the portrait of a victim of the Khmer Rouge is interlaced with an image of one of the overgrown temples of Angkor Wat. Lê slices photographs into strips and weaves them together, one image becoming warp and another weft, the two pictures fusing into a riveting, oscillating hybrid. The hair of the young Cambodian girl merges with the long, meandering tree roots that cling to the temple walls. Old and new, near and far converge, faith overlaps with loss, the sacred melts into the profane.
The Vietnamese-born, American-trained Lê has been weaving with photographs for more than two decades. His technique is dense with metaphoric possibility; it asserts the fundamental interconnectedness of people and place. It is deeply humane work and also profoundly beautiful, manifesting the evidentiary power of photography, the tactile richness of sculpture and a painterly sensuousness of tone, color and gesture.
In these mournful yet gorgeous recent works, Lê extends his longstanding focus on Cambodia while also addressing the civilization of Sumer, pairing images of ancient carvings with portraits of contemporary citizens of the same area, now Iraq. He stacks and clusters images, mixing straight and woven photographs, which amplifies the pictures' internal sense of movement, their fragmentation and layering.
Lê's woven images cohere from a distance and dissolve into pixellated pattern up close, enacting a charged marriage between one of the oldest forms of object-making and one of the newest picture-making technologies.
Dinh Q. Lê, Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica, through July 14. Closed Sunday and Monday. www.shoshanawayne.com