The Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris is presenting an exhibition devoted to artist Danh Vo, born in Vietnam in 1975 and now living between Berlin and New York.
At the age of four Danh Vo and his family left Vietnam aboard a boat built by his father. Hoping to reach the United States, they were picked up in the Pacific by a Danish cargo ship. His family's experience, the chance link with Denmark, the Vietnam War and the issue of identity shaped by historical circumstance are now the core of his work.
Deeply marked by his emigrant status and the difficult interrelation between history and identity in postcolonial societies, Danh Vo explores the fragile nature of our points of reference. Bringing together a range of influences – Californian counter-culture, Punk, cinema and artists including Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Andy Warhol – his œuvre is built around the circulation of values, be they material, economic, symbolic or spiritual.
His project GO MO NI MA DA revolves around three groups of works:
- We The People, an emblematic Danh Vo piece, involves a life-size reproduction of the Statue of Liberty, built by Auguste Bartholdi in 1875. Thirty fragments are presented in the exhibition, together with photographs taken by Bartholdi in Egypt.
- Three chandeliers conjure up the lounge at the Hotel Majestic, where the Paris Peace Accords ending the war between the United States and Vietnam were signed on 27 January 1973. In 2009 Danh Vo acquired these three "silent witnesses" to the event.
- In a work referencing Théophane Vénard (1829-1861), the artist evokes the Paris Foreign Missions Society, a body of Catholic missionary priests functioning in Asia since the 17th century, and its relationship with Vietnam.
A handwritten work produced in situ by the artist's father is also part of the exhibition.
Danh Vo's work has been shown in major international venues: Art Institute of Chicago (2012-2013); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2012); National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen (2012, 2010); Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2009); MoMA, New York (2009); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2008); Bergen Kunsthall, Norway (2006). He also took part in the Shanghai Biennial in 2012.
Winner of the 2012 Hugo Boss Prize, Danh Vo will be exhibiting in the spring of 2013 at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. He will also be showing at the 2013 Venice Biennale.
* "Good Morning, Madame"