Danh Vo is a Danish-Vietnamese artist who uses his international background to create poetic sculptures and installations that probe issues of identity and cultural heritage. For “We the People,” the artist turned the Statue of Liberty into 400 separate fragments, manufactured in Shanghai and distributed all over the world.
Vo, who recently won the 2012 Hugo Boss Prize, will speak at the Guggenheim on Tuesday, March 19, in commemoration of his new Guggenheim exhibition I M U U R 2. The artist will discuss his nomadic artistic practice and his ongoing exhibition at the Guggenheim with artist, writer, and curator Julie Ault as well as Peter Broda, who co-founded the Museum of American Graffiti.
With “We the People,” Vo announced in a grand gesture his intentions to dismantle some of our ideas about American ascendancy. The deconstructed monument is a symbol of the country faltering in the international eye through the past decade’s storms of the war on terror and the economic crisis. In “26.05.2009, 8:43,” he investigated the impact of colonialism on Vietnam through material culture, appropriating a chandelier from the ballroom where the Vietcong signed the Paris Peace Accord on January 27, 1973.
For his Guggenheim exhibition, Vo explores the work of visionary New York City downtown painter Martin Wong, who died in 1999. Vo researched the artist’s work and life, eventually making his way to see the artist’s mother in San Francisco and gaining to his archive, a collection of calligraphy, curios, souvenirs, and original paintings. Vo has installed a selection of the objects he uncovered at the Guggenheim.
Along with artists like Simon Fujiwara, Vo is working within the context of the globalized world while retaining a deep and subtle engagement with individual cultural histories. We can’t wait for him to talk through that philosophy at the museum.