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Curator's Note:

Tumultuous, expansive, inspirational - the past 10 years have had their ups and downs. How have contemporary artists reacted to the news of the day?


Art's relationship to its time is inherently complex. No matter what the particular subject at hand - be it social upheaval, the environment, mass media, or identity - today's art is layered with influences, sources and ideas. Loathe to be pinned down, contemporary artists serve no master, religion or propaganda, as they most often did in past centuries. Positioning themselves on the very edge of expression, the artists presented here pose questions and create new forms that open up ways of thinking and viewing the world.

--Wesley Miller, Associate Curator, Art21

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"My whole outlook on it is people that are protesting are the ones who are scared to come out here and die for their country." -Sgt. Shane Carpenter, FRONTLINE: A Company of Soldiers (2007)

While innumerable artists felt the impact of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan in their daily lives and brought those perspectives into their work, photographer An-My Lê produced one of the more sustained and enigmatic portraits of war in the 2000s. Lê’s coolly detached images explore the disjunction between wars as historical events and the ubiquitous representation of war in contemporary entertainment, politics, and collective consciousness.

An-My Lê is featured in the Season 4 (2007) episode of Art in the Twenty-First Century, Protest.

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