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Legacy of an Ecocide

Petronella Ytsma | Viet Nam

Sinh, b. 2001, TuDu Hospital

Through the lens of my camera, Legacy of an Ecocide: Aftermath of Agent Orange portraits explore intergenerational effects of war chemical usage on specific populations, i.e., in Vietnam and on American veterans who served in the Vietnam/American War.  

From 1961 to 1971 the United States engaged in extensive and systematic use of chemical warfare for the stated purpose of defoliation in Viet Nam, Laos, and Cambodia. Much was done in secret and with little regard to long-term consequences on the troops, local populations or environment. The most toxic of the chemicals employed was Agent Orange containing the extremely poisonous and persistent chemical Dioxin. 

The relevancy of this work is evidenced by the fact that issues surrounding Agent Orange continue to this day (see Resources). We hear about this primarily though efforts to bring comprehensive medical care to veterans and their families, but it is the universal struggle.  It is our mirror.  We must look.


My work is concerned with social justice and ecological issues from an artistic perspective. Primarily through the lens of my Hasselblad, which allows the ‘unhurried visit’, I explore remnants and legacy, memory and mirror, and reflect on the civil contracts inherent between image maker, giver and viewer. Images from this body of work about intergenerational effects of Agent Orange on a specific population comprise a cautionary tale, a never-ending highly controversial one fraught with myriad complexities. As maker and viewer, they confirm my sense of being in the world and are for me the embodiment of a prayer.



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