Vietnamese-born Danish artist Danh Vo draws upon his and others’ biographies and aspects of political history and social memory to dissect the forces that affect our lives in overt and unexamined ways. He analyzes the structures and processes that shape our identities, such as the American dream, capitalist culture, civic bureaucracy, colonial history, migration, and religion. His projects emerge from personal relationships and fortuitous encounters, taking their final form as objects and images that have accrued shifting layers of meaning in the world through former ownership, proximity to specific events, or currency as universal icons. A son’s last letter home from a distant land, a father’s cherished wristwatch, a marriage certificate, and a glittering chandelier become charged conduits of history and identity. Through his approach, the artist’s family history—which arcs from wartime Vietnam through displacement and immigration to Europe—is used as a readymade material, intertwining with the many other lives and deaths spanning centuries and continents evoked throughout his works.
Vo’s international solo exhibitions include Danh Vo: Take My Breath Away, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, and Statens Museum for Kunst/National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen; CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux, France; National Gallery, Singapore; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; Palacio de Cristal at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Museo Jumex, Mexico City, Mexico; Villa Medici, Rome; Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris; Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago; the Art Institute of Chicago; Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria; Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany; Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland; and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. His international group exhibitions include the 2014 and 2010 Berlin Biennale; 2011 Singapore Biennale; 2012 New Museum Triennial, New York; 56th Venice Biennale; 2014 Triennale di Milano, Milan; 2014 Whitney Biennial, New York; 2014 Yokohama Triennale, Yokohama, Japan; Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona; and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Vo was awarded the 2007 Blauorange Kunstpreis der Deutschen Volksbanken und Raiffeisenbanken and the 2012 Hugo Boss Prize.
Danh Vo will discuss his practice with Hendrik Folkerts, Dittmer Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Art Institute of Chicago.