The work “Les Fleurs d’intérieur” (which gives its name to the exhibiton presented at Kadist Art Foundation from May 30 to July 13, 2009) is a brass plate engraved with the inventory list of the works included in the show. From this moment, Dahn Vo will use this brass plates as a systematic element for all his exhibitions.
Good life (2007) is an installation displaying letters, documents, photographs and objects from a man named Joseph Carrier, and appropriated by artist Danh Vo. The installation features a series of small square vitrines, inset, dark and precisely spot-lit. Inside these are framed photographs, mostly black and white, of young Asian men, taken, as the titles on the neat brass name plates tell us, in Vietnam in the 1960s and early 1970s. In one vitrine, an old-fashioned camera sits propped up on its worn leather case.
Danh Vo’s personal history of migration and adjustment is an important reference point for his artistic practice. In his work, he explores themes ranging from identity, authorship, sexuality, and ownership to origin. He uses intimate, personal material to show that identity is a construction of projections, assumptions and attributed values. Vo embarks upon a subtle investigation of the Western fascination for the exotic and unknown with an exquisite conceptual style. For Vo, appropriating the history of others is a way of unraveling monolithic ideas about identity. And he does so with great verve, generally initiating the journey with himself. In addition to his classifiable works, a certain mystified aura lingers around his actions: the artist has married, and subsequently divorced numerous people simply to add their names to his list, he has committed “crimes” later displaying their documentation as show, for example. In his installations he uses objects, photos and documentation that connects his family history to real memories intertwined with a complex imaginary. His refugee status has led him to attempt to reconstruct various derivations of identities, origins, and stories. This requires the questioning of social structures, the endorsement of different identities, the questioning of values, and the undermining of conventions in order set forth a groundwork for his personal depiction in the world of society at large.
Born in 1975, Danh Vo is a Danish artist with Vietnamese origins. He lives and works in Berlin.