Danh Vo الحجارة وادي [Wād al-ḥaŷara] takes its title from an Arabic expression meaning “river running through rocks.” This is a reference to the first time Vo (Vietnam, 1975) came to Mexico, when years ago he traveled to Guadalajara with his longtime friend Joseph M. Carrier, a retired US military analyst who had lived in Vietnam from 1962 to 1973. This relationship allowed Danh Võ to take a mediated approach to explore his country of birth and to appropriate thereby a series of historical moments and everyday situations that he had not experienced firsthand. But الحجارة وادي is not just a personal reference, it also signifies a new chapter in Vo’s work in that it examines the history of colonialism and its close ties to the dissemination of cultures and the assimilation of religions, going back in this case to the first Arab conquest of Spain and its later transposition to the “New World”. In other words, the show also refers to how the rise and fall of empires have a powerful impact on the social body and determine the cultural economies that make up our everyday lives.
Born into a family that embraced the Catholic faith and escaped from Vietnam to take refuge in Europe, the artist's work addresses the dichotomy between Asia and Europe, between global capitalism and real socialism, between conservative regimes and liberal politics. By strategically recycling objects loaded with history, Danh Vo transcends the practice of the readymade to enter a more complex space in which memory plays a vital role.
This publication includes essays by Magalí Arriola, Francesco Pellizi, Tom McDonough, amongst others, to analyse Danh Vo’s practice. Published retrospectively after the exhibition Danh Vo: Wād al-ḥaŷara at Museo Jumex, Mexico City, 13 November 2014 – 25 February 2015.
The Forking Paths
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