PAE: $773,957-$1,083,540
Danh Vô, VJ Star, 2010
Danh Vô, VJ Star, 2010, gold leaf on cardboard, 95 x 151 cm (37 3/8 x 59 1/2 in.) © Images are copyright of their respective owners, assignees or others.

Danh Vo was born in the southeast region of Vietnam in 1975. At the age of four he and his family fled their home country, escaping on a homemade boat hoping to reach America. They were rescued at sea by a Danish freighter and relocated to Denmark. Vo’s work reflects upon this migration, his family’s assimilation into Western consumer culture, and the historic (seemingly unrelated) parallels he appropriates into the creation of his own identity both as an artist and individual. As a child, Vo was given his name by Danish immigration officials who misunderstood the true order of his birth name. For Vo, this could be seen as an early lesson in the underlying fluidity of “official” representation, a first-hand encounter of a world in flux, where “definitions” are not definite. Vo has since married several times in order to lengthen his surname in an ongoing work called Vo Rosasco Rasmussen, (2002-). Vo is an arranger of fragments and an appropriator of the history of others. In “If you were to climb the Himalayas tomorrow”, 2005, Vo displays his father’s prized possessions, his Rolex watch, his Dupont lighter, and his American military class ring in a museum-like vitrine. The vitrine elevates these objects of his father’s Western aspiration and adoration to the level afforded to sacred idols. Vo’s museum-like display of these consumer goods calls attention to the objects’ illusory quality while at the same time raises his family’s history to that space of adoration. Other items from his family’s past have also been appropriated. In “Oma Totem”, 2009, Vo stacks his grandmother’s television, washing machine, and refrigerator, all Western welcome gifts from an immigrant relief program. Vo then cast the façade of these items to create the marble “Tombstone for Nguyen Thi Ty”, 2009. This again, rises what westerners think of as everyday to the status of revered. Another major theme in Vo’s work is transportation. He has gilded representations of American flags and corporate packaging, including Sony, Coca-Cola, Colgate and Coffee Mate, onto cardboard boxes, to comment on the way in which corporate identity, consumer goods, and ideology can be readily spread around the globe, as a promise of salvation, distracting from ever-present political and social problems. Vo has sometimes replaced his artist statement and exhibition press releases with handwritten copies of “Cinderella”, upsetting that which we take for granted or look to for explanation. In works such as “Your mother sucks cocks in Hell”, 2015, a stacked arrangement of fragments from a Madonna and Child, Vo fuses his objects with a demon-like possession, when one pictures Marian Goodman and her staff telling their wealthy collectors the insulting title, which is specifically crafted to insult. The works title is taken from the climax of the film “The Exorcist”, where a young girl, possessed by a demon, is shouting obscenities. His most well-know work is “We The People”, 2010-2012, in which he created a life-size duplicate of the Statue of Liberty in fragments, dispersing these to private and public collections around the globe. Vo is a citizen of the world and his work exposes the boundaries that can be crossed when concepts of cultural identity are utilized as medium. Danh Vo is represented by Marian Goodman Gallery. See also: David Hammons, Felix González-Torres, Louise Lawler, and Thomas Demand.

Video: SMK TV: Danh Vo about the exhibition "Hip hip hurra". From: Statens Museum for Kunst