A crucifix on a fridge, a gilt cardboard box, and a used Mercedes engine. The internationally acclaimed Danish-Vietnamese artist Danh Vo conquers x-rummet at the National Gallery of Denmark with a subtly humorous exhibition that links personal history with wider cultural and political issues. The exhibition “Hip Hip Hurrah’ marks Vo’s first solo representation in Denmark.
A refugee in flux’
Danh Vo was born in Vietnam in 1975. At the age of four, he and his family fled the post-war chaos of their native country in a homemade boat. Their intention was to go to the USA, but a Danish freighter discovered them in the Pacific, picked them up and took them back home to Denmark. As a refugee and immigrant Vo is an eternal traveller, voyaging through the conditions that have shaped and make up his identity. This also applies to his works, which build their poetic - and at times peculiar - significance through objects and their mutable association with cultural, historic, and personal contexts.
Objects as history’
In many of his works Vo combines found objects, some of which have been subjected to slight treatment, in startling constellations. With great precision he delves into and unearths the spaces where collective history and personal memory intersect. One example would be the sculpture Oma Totem, which consists of his late grandmother’s refrigerator, television set, and washing machine all stacked on top of each other and adorned by her crucifix and a pass to a casino. Vo’s grandmother received these objects by the Catholic Church and the state authorities upon her arrival in Germany in the 1980s. The bizarre combination of political, religious, and cultural issues associated with the objects - and the peculiar role they have played in the artist’s grandmother’s life and integration - is touching and grotesque in equal measure.
“Hip Hip Hurrah” is the title of the x-rummet exhibition; it comprises eight works, seven of which are new. The festive title applied to the works on display deliberately plays with - and challenges - the most basic and simple definitions of identity and the personal. A special initiative for this exhibition is a pop-up cake designed by Danh Vo. The pop-up cake is used as the official invitation for the exhibition’s private view, and a limited edition of the design is sold from the museum bookshop.
About Danh Vo
‘Dahn Vo was born in 1975. He lives and works in Berlin and Bangkok. He is a graduate from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and the Städelschule in Frankfurt and has exhibited his work at e.g. Artists Space, New York (2010); Kunsthalle Basel (2009); Stedelijk Museum (2008); 8th Gwangju Biennial (South Korea 2010) 6th Berlin Biennial (Berlin 2010), Reality Check (The National Gallery of Denmark 2008), and Manifesta 7 (Bolzano 2008).‘In 2009 he was nominated for the prestigious award Preis der Nationalgalerie für junge Kunst, In 2007 he won the blauorange Kunstpreis der Deutschen Volksbanken und Raiffeisenbanken.