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Danh Vo

2.2.1861, 2009

- ongoing

Ink on paper, 29.6 x 21 cm


Danh Vopresents his ongoing work on paper 2.2.1861in which he has asked his own father, who has beautiful handwriting skills, to transcribe the last farewell letter of Saint Jean-Théophane Vénard, a French missionary in Vietnam, to his father in 1861. Danh Vo’s father, Phung Vo cannot read French, but his elegant handwriting forms a beautiful transcription of this emotional letter from son to father. Through this process, the work links to the artist’s own relationship with his father. The transcriptions of the letter poetically describe loss and departure, along with faiths and beliefs, reflecting the history of subsistence and conditions in other places. 


Danh Vo (b.1975) Through a body of personal work inspired also by historical and political events, Danh Voprobes into the inheritance and construction of cultural conflicts, traumas, and values. When Vowas a child, his family fled Vietnam and settled in Denmark: their assimilation to European culture and the political events that prompted their flight are intrinsic to his artistic investigations. His work sheds light on the relation between the inseparable elements that shape our sense of self, both through collective history and private experience. Exhibiting objects based on the ready-made principle is a characteristic artistic strategy of Danh Vo; through objects charged with symbolism that retains the sublimated desire and sadness of individuals and entire cultures, he examines how meaning changes with context. Danh Vo's work, enigmatic and poetic, deftly avoids didacticism as he explores the power structures behind liberal societies and the fragility of our nation-state notions.