The awakening of adolescence has been a recurring theme that has always fascinated a great many visual artists; conflicts of identity, physical metamorphosis, psychological instability (more…)
Danish artist Danh Vo (b. 1975, Bà Rịa, Vietnam) dissects the public forces and private desires that define individual experience. His work addresses sweeping cultural and political themes, but refracts them through intimate personal narratives – what the artist calls “the tiny diasporas of a person’s life.” Seen together in this survey exhibition, the sculptures, photographs, and works on paper that he has created over the past fifteen years circle a central paradox: that the self is plural and inherently fluid, yet decisively shaped by larger power structures.
Emerging from personal relationships and fortuitous encounters, Vo’s projects take their final form as objects and images that have accrued shifting layers of meaning in the world, whether through their former ownership, their proximity to specific events, or their currency as universal icons. A son’s last letter home from a distant land, a father’s cherished wristwatch, a marriage certificate, and a glittering chandelier become charged conduits of history and identity. Vo sometimes presents these items untouched, allowing their internal contradictions to quietly unravel through a simple act of re-contextualization. Others are dismembered or combined with new partners in a vivid compression of themes and eras. Within this approach, the artist’s family history – which arcs from wartime Vietnam through displacement and immigration to Europe – is used as a readymade material like any other, intertwining with the many lives and deaths spanning centuries and continents that are evoked.