DANH VO — 2 Fevrier, 1861, Phụng Vo

Out of Stock


2 Fevrier, 1861, Phụng Vo “Catalogue raisonné 20.01-1861”, Kunsthaus Bregenz, April 2012. 8vo in purple clothed hardcover with gilt title. 241 pages. Illustrated. Fine copy

First edition

“The work of Vietnamese-born, Danish artist Danh Vo brings themes of capitalism, colonialism, and religion together with intimate personal narratives—what he calls “the tiny diasporas of a person’s life.” In 1861, the young French missionary Jean-Théophane Vénard wrote one final letter to his father before being executed in Vietnam by anti-Catholic forces. Faced with imminent death, the young priest poignantly equates his own decapitation with a springtime flower being plucked from a garden. This work by Danh Vo is titled 2.2.1861, after the exact date of Vénard’s death. It alludes to broad historical subjects such as French cultural influence in Vietnam and the incursion of Catholicism into Eastern cultures. But as in much of the artist’s work, these sweeping themes are paradoxically illuminated through a highly personal lens. Vénard’s tender and poetic words, written to his father back in France as he awaited execution, become entwined with the artist’s own paternal relationship. Vo invited his father, who learned exquisite calligraphy as a child in Vietnam, to collaborate on this project, asking him to repeatedly transcribe the letter as part of an evolving archive. Each letter in the series is a copy, yet it’s also a handmade object, and therefore unique. Throughout his lifetime, Phung Vo will continue to copy the letter for his son. Here, the artist explains the dynamic of this unusual collaboration. Danh Vo: But if it just had, like, this thing that the producer and the viewer totally don’t understand each other but only join through this object. But both participates equally in different levels. I think that’s more than enough. And originally my father didn’t under[stand] what he was writing because he doesn’t understand French. And I really love that he didn’t under[stand] it because it was just calligraphy turned into labor…”

DANH VO — 2 Fevrier, 1861, Phụng Vo