Agent Orange Altar Piece, 2012
This image was constructed with photographs taken in the Land Mine Museum in Ho Chi Minh city in 2012. These startling and unexpected fetuses are encountered in a vitrine in the center of one of the rooms at the Land Mine Museum. They are a testament to the suffering of generations of Vietnamese due to the campaign to defoliate the Vietnamese jungles and starve its people during what the Vietnamese refer to as the “American War”. The chemical defoliant, Agent Orange, contained dioxin, a chemical toxic to humans as well as plants. It is a chemical with a long life and remains in the soil for long periods. The Vietnamese claim Agent Orange is the cause of over a half a million birth defects. Birth defects were also prevalent among returning soldiers’s families. Both the Vietnamese people and American veterans have attributed various cancers and illnesses to their exposure to dioxin. Dioxin is a known carcinogen even in very small doses. Operation Ranch Hand rained these chemicals from the air onto the Vietnamese landscape from 1961 to 1971, spraying an estimated 13 million gallons of herbicide, manufactured by Dow Chemical and Monsanto.