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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
- Vietnam-born artist Danh Vo wins ninth Hugo Boss Prize – November 2012 – a multinational perspective and thematic sophistication pushed Vo ahead of the other finalists
- 27 contemporary Southeast Asian artists featured in ASEAN-Korea photo exhibition – July 2010 – new work by some of Southeast Asia’s brightest contemporary photographers
- Rise of the celebrity artist: Vietnamese artist Trong Nguyen featured on Bravo TV reality series – July 2010 – Trong Nguyen’s ambivalent attitude towards reality TV
- Will Vietnamese non-profit art space San Art shift the art scene from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh city? – December 2009 – an interview with one of the premier dealers of contemporary Vietnamese art
- Acclaimed Vietnamese artist and collector Dinh Q. Le reveals which Vietnamese contemporary artists he is collecting now – interview Wall Street Journal – September 2009 – an insider look into the Vietnamese contemporary art market
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