Danh Vo, Vietnam’s post-colonialist in Paris – picture feast

Danh Vo presents powerful politics at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

Artist Danh Vo, born in Vietnam in 1975 and exiled to Denmark four years later, is showing a solo exhibition titled “Go Mo Ni Ma Da” in Paris from 24 May to 18 August 2013. Although the symbolic artworks do not appear overtly political, they nevertheless confront ideas of power, colonialism and the relationship between the United States and Vietnam.

Danh Vo. Mentions obligatoires :  View of the exhibition Go Mo Ni Ma Da at Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013.  Photograph : Pierre Antoine,  Courtesy Collection Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner, New York

Danh Vo, ‘Go Mo Ni Ma Da’ exhibition view, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013. Photograph by Pierre Antoine. Image courtesy Collection Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner, New York.

Danh Vo is an artist of international stature who exhibits in biennales and museums around the world. Winner of the 2012 Hugo Boss Prize, he studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Denmark and the Städelschule, Frankfurt.

The title of Danh Vo’s solo exhibition “Go Mo Ni Ma Da“, on view in Paris 24 May to 18 August 2013,  is the Vietnamese pronunciation of “Good morning, Madame” and highlights the cultural mixture in his work.

The Musee d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (MAM) press release describes Danh Vo’s art in terms of its political subtexts:

Neither direct nor confrontational, his practice explores the power games underlying liberal societies, the rules governing those societies, and the fragility of the nation-state idea. Built around the circulation of values, be they material, economic, symbolic or spiritual, the artist’s oeuvre reveals, too, the complexity of the interchange between peoples in the context of post-colonial society.

Danh Vo, 'Go Mo Ni Ma Da' installation view at Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013. Photograph : Pierre Antoine. Image courtesy artist  / Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi.

Danh Vo, ‘Go Mo Ni Ma Da’ installation view at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013. Photograph by Pierre Antoine. Image courtesy the artist/Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi.

During Danh Vo’s 2009 residency at the Fondation Kadist in Paris, he researched the Paris Peace Accords which took place under crystal chandeliers in the Hotel Majestic in 1973.

He also discovered a letter from Théophane Vénard (1829-1861), a priest from the Paris Foreign Missions Society, whose goal since the seventeenth century was to convert Asians to Christianity. These elements of research led to his current installation.

 

Danh Vo, 'Go Mo Ni Ma Da', installation view at Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013. Photograph: Pierre Antoine. Image courtesy artist / Collection Chantal Crousel, Paris. Courtesy Collection Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner, 2013.

Danh Vo, ‘Go Mo Ni Ma Da’, installation view at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013. Photograph by Pierre Antoine. Image courtesy the artist/Collection Chantal Crousel, Paris, and the Collection Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner, 2013.

Danh Vo acquired lots from Sotheby’s auction of the Estate of Robert S. McNamara, the former American Secretary of Defense, whom The New York Times referred to as “the failed architect of the Vietnam War.” With these lots, Vo created nine works for the exhibition with titles such as A Group of 4 Presidential Signing Pens and Two Kennedy Administration Cabinet Room Chairs.

Danh Vo, 'Go Mo Ni Ma Da', installation view at Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013. Photograph: Pierre Antoine. Image courtesy  The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Contemporary Arts Council of the  Museum of Modern Art and The Fund for the Twenty-First Century, 2010.

Danh Vo, ‘Go Mo Ni Ma Da’, installation view at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013. Photograph by Pierre Antoine. Image courtesy the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Contemporary Arts Council of the Museum of Modern Art and The Fund for the Twenty-First Century, 2010.

 

Danh Vo, 'Go Mo Ni Ma Da', installation view at Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013.  Photograph: Pierre Antoine. Image courtesy artist.

Danh Vo, ‘Go Mo Ni Ma Da’, installation view at Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013.
Photograph by Pierre Antoine. Image the courtesy the artist.

According to MAM’s press release,

Danh Vo’s cardboard shipping boxes start in the recycling piles after a product has completed its economic arc. Collected and flattened, they are sent to Thailand where gold leaf is applied following the pattern of the exterior’s logo. They return reborn and revalued by their surface rather than their contents. The gold is a visa signaling a new mobility, and an empty container previously filled with Evian or Budweiser, for instance, gets recharged.

Danh Vo, 'Go Mo Ni Ma Da', installation view at Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013.  Photograph: Pierre Antoine. Image courtesy  Statens Museum for Kunst, Denmark, 2011.

Danh Vo, ‘Go Mo Ni Ma Da’, installation view at Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013.
Photograph by Pierre Antoine. Image courtesy Statens Museum for Kunst, Denmark, 2011.

For his installation, Danh Vo purchased three chandeliers from the Hotel Majestic, where the Paris Peace Accords between the United States and Vietnam were signed on 27 January 1973.

Danh Vo, 'Go Mo Ni Ma Da', installation view at Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013.  Photograph: Pierre Antoine. Image courtesy  artist, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris / Kadist Art Foundation, Paris /  Collection particulière / Collection Adam Lindemann / Collection Kand.

Danh Vo, ‘Go Mo Ni Ma Da’, installation view at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013.
Photograph: Pierre Antoine. Image courtesy the artist, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris/Kadist Art Foundation, Paris /Collection particulière /Collection Adam Lindemann/Collection Kand.

We The People is composed of thirty copper fragments, which are life-size reproductions of the Auguste Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty (1886). The press release states,

Danh Vo first envisioned We The People (2011-13) in 2010 after hearing that the Statue of Liberty’s “skin”- its thin, hammered copper facade- is only 2.5 mm thick. It was this disjuncture between the statue’s monumentality as both a colossal sculpture
and quasi-universal symbol and it’s apparent fragility that initiated the process to recreate the “skin” (without the inner scaffolding). The artist followed the traditional repoussé technique to replicate thirty-one tons of copper pieces—down to the millimeter. The fragments are destined for exhibition and circulation through different venues, both private and public, around the world.

Danh Vo, 'Go Mo Ni Ma Da', installation view at Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013.  Photograph: Pierre Antoine. Image courtesy  artist, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris / Kadist Art Foundation, Paris /  Collection particulière / Collection Adam Lindemann / Collection Kand, Collection Danh Vo.

Danh Vo, ‘Go Mo Ni Ma Da’, installation view at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013.
Photograph: Pierre Antoine. Image courtesy the artist, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris / Kadist Art Foundation, Paris / Collection particulière / Collection Adam Lindemann / Collection Kand, Collection Danh Vo.

Danh Vo, 'Go Mo Ni Ma Da', installation view at Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013.  Photograph: Pierre Antoine. Image courtesy  artist, Courtesy Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris / Kadist Art Foundation, Paris /  Collection particulière / Collection Adam Lindemann / Collection Kand.

Danh Vo, ‘Go Mo Ni Ma Da’, installation view at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013.
Photograph: Pierre Antoine. Image courtesy the artist, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris / Kadist Art Foundation, Paris / Collection particulière / Collection Adam Lindemann / Collection Kand.

Danh Vo, 'Go Mo Ni Ma Da', installation view at Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013.  Photograph: Pierre Antoine. Image courtesy  artist, Courtesy Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris / Kadist Art Foundation, Paris /  Collection particulière / Collection Adam Lindemann / Collection Kand.

Danh Vo, ‘Go Mo Ni Ma Da’, installation view at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2013.
Photograph: Pierre Antoine. Image courtesy the artist, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris/Kadist Art Foundation, Paris /Collection particulière/Collection Adam Lindemann/Collection Kand.

Susan Kendzulak

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Related Topics: Vietnamese artists, installation, Asian art exhibitions in France, Contemporary art as soft power, Picture feast

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