Operation Palace Dog
In the summer of 2017, one of my closest friends invited me on a trip that her family was taking to Laos, the country from which they are refugees. They crossed the Mekong River, escaping state persecution of the Hmong people in the wake of the Secret War.

From the moment I arrived, I thought relentlessly of my own country’s presence in the landscape. During the Vietnam War there was another, unacknowledged, war being fought in Laos, often referred to as the Secret War. The landscape still contains more undetonated material from this proxy war than any other place in the world.

My images—which have been altered, some minimally, and others more drastically using physical or digital manipulation—depict Laos not as it literally appears, but more so the psychological experience of being a tourist in a place haunted by my own country’s violence.  I look for ways to capture the veiled impact of American power: to find instances where past and present states collide, creating a landscape where fear penetrates the beauty.  

In a moment in which our borders are tightening, a global refugee crisis is escalating, and xenophobia is rampant, I empathetically depict the experience of living at the mercy of American military might and its aftermath, while recording my ethical confusion, visual compulsion, and evolving consciousness as I confront my own cultural responsibility.