The Danish-Vietnamese artist Danh Vo has won great acclaim internationally as he has interrogated concepts and poetry in his creations. For his newest solo show at Faurschou Foundation, We The People (detail), 2011-2013, Vo will bring his long-term project to Beijing. The exhibition will run from April 30 through to August 24.
The project has occupied a team of skilled craftsmen in Shanghai in the faithful reconstruction of an actual size replica of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty. Working from the sculptor’s original drawings, more than 200 elements have been beaten and welded from 2.5mm sheets of copper over plaster and metal armature, following the original construction method. As pieces are made, they are shipped off in batches to museums, galleries, biennales and art fairs.
Through performance-based works inspired by his life experiences and historically rich readymade objects, Danh Vo interrogates the construction of inherited cultural values, conflicts, and displacement in his surprising innovation. When he was a child, Vo’s family fled Vietnam and settled in Denmark. His work draws on personal and historical arti¬facts that directly and indirectly touch on this experience to examine how such items are dispersed across borders or symbolize transnational movements.
Frédéric Bartholdi originally designed the statue as political propaganda for the French opposition; posed to face the Atlantic, “she” was meant to spread America’s democratic values to France. The statue became an immigrant symbol as its position also served to welcome ships passing through Ellis Island. As the title suggests, Danh Vo’s installation We the People (Detail) is not intended to form a single, cohesive whole. The objective of Vo’s project, however, is not to erect another statue in its totality but to reconstruct its individual elements and allow them to be dispersed to various museums and art venues across the globe. The scattered fragments remain connected to this universal symbol but emphasize the abstract nature of the concept of freedom. Vo’s decision to recreate only the statue’s thin copper skin—at its actual thickness of two pennies—reveals the monument’s material and conceptual fragility, and by extension, the malleability of its meaning.
The installation not only works against the mythical position of the statue today but, in fact, recalls the original contexts in which the statue made its first public appearances: prior to its full assembly and dedication in New York in 1886, the torch-wielding hand was displayed in Philadelphia at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, and the head was shown at the Paris Exposition of 1878.
About Danh Vo
Danh Vo now primarily lives and works in Basel and New York. He is a graduate from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and the Städelschule in Frankfurt. In recent years he has won great acclaim on the international art scene and has a wide range of prestigious exhibitions to his name, for example at the Artist Space in New York, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Kunsthalle Basel, and the Kunsthaus Bregenz. Several museums have acquired his works, including the MoMA in New York. He is the winner of the 2012 Hugo Boss Prize. He was awarded the BlauOrange Kunstpreis der Deutschen Volksbanken und Raiffeisenbanken, Berlin, Germany (2007) and was a nominee for the Preis der Nationalgalerie für junge Kunst, Berlin, Germany (2009).
Courtesy of the artist and Faurschou Foundation, for further information please visit www.faurschou.com.