Central to the work of Dinh Q. Lê's is the interweaving of real and imagined memories, particularly in relation to the Vietnam War (also called the American War by the Vietnamese). His works often seek to present alternative points of view on the narrative of that war, which has hitherto been constructed largely from a Western perspective. Best known for his woven photographs, Lê's body of work also includes sculpture, installation, video and urban intervention.
I am Large, I Contain Multitudes (2009) is one of the artefacts that Lê purchased from the streets of his hometown and inserted into a gallery context without intervention. The title is taken from the American poet Walt Whitman's “Song of Myself", in which Whitman transcends the traditional boundaries of the self. A symbol of the dexterity and strength of the Vietnamese people, many of whom have lived through the war and are now battling poverty, this bicycle with many tiny mirrors reveals Lê's admiration of the resilience and inventiveness of the people as shown in their everyday life. It also suggests that the collective trauma of war and poverty can be transcended by each individual's formidable will to live.