The Art Institute Chicago

ART INSTITUTE | 111 South Michigan Avenue
Illinois-60603 Chicago

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press release

Through performance-based works inspired by his life experiences and historically rich readymade objects, Vietnamese-born, New York–based artist Danh Vo interrogates the construction of inherited cultural values, conflicts, and displacement. The objects that Vo selects contain multiple levels of meaning—complex political and poetic systems with which the artist perceptively links art and life. Recent projects by Vo evince an interest in how objects mark the intersection between individual biographies and historic events. When he was a child, Vo’s family left Vietnam in a boat built by his father. By chance, they were picked up by a Danish freighter and brought to Denmark, where they became citizens. Vo’s conceptual work draws on small documents and artifacts that both directly and indirectly touch on this experience—such as the watch, ring, and lighter that his father acquired upon arriving in Denmark as a refugee or hand-copies of a personal letter written by the canonized French missionary Théophane Vénard days before his execution in Vietnam—to examine how such items are dispersed across borders or symbolize transnational movements.

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Danh Vo
We the People