The Renaissance Society will present Uterus, an exhibition by Vietnam-born, Berlin-based artist Danh Vo, September 23 – December 16, 2012, with an opening reception Sunday, September 23, from 4-7pm. The artist will speak at 5pm. The Renaissance Society is presenting both new and previously exhibited work by Vo. Additionally, The Renaissance Society and The Art Institute are collaborating to bring Vo’s ongoing project We The People to Chicago.
Composed of sections of the Statue of Liberty reproduced at full scale, We The People is a striking take on the concept of freedom. According to art critic H.G. Masters in Art Asia Pacific: “For his project, the iconic statue is being remade, in China, in the exact same manner as the original—the thin copper is pounded into shape on top of wooden moulds in a technique called repoussage. This contemporary, bootleg copy of Liberty is fresh from the factory, lying in pieces on the floor …. How the history and values of the US have come to be a recurrent subject in Vo’s practice reflects both an intellectual interest and a deeper connection to the artist’s life story.” (March 2012) We The People will be installed both on the premises of the Art Institute in downtown Chicago, and on the campus of University of Chicago in Hyde Park. Fragments will be installed at the Oriental Institute, (founded in 1919 as “a laboratory for the study of the rise and development of civilization,”) the Booth Business School, and University of Chicago Law School, (both leading proponents of neo-liberalism and free market philosophies.)
In addition to exhibiting the pieces of We the People around campus, The Renaissance Society will present a collection of smaller works in its gallery. Amongst other works, the gallery exhibition will include Untitled (2012), a set of copper ingots that was formerly an artwork – a piece of Vo’s We the People melted down and returned to the state of raw material; 56 x 45 x 25 cm (2008), a medieval sculpture of St. Joseph sliced into pieces; Untitled, (2008), a blond hair piece on a glass shelf; Cortex, co. to Colmar, (2012), a wooden box with concrete casting of legs and feet from the knees down, toenails painted silver; Gustav’s Wings (2012), a LightJet print on EP Matte 50 paper; and Untitled (The Collection of Leonard Lyons letters from Henry Kissinger ) (2007) 14 pages, each 8.5 x 11” contained in their own individually lit vitrines, original letters on watermarked White House stationary sent by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to Leonard Lyons, a syndicated society columnist.
Vo was born in Vietnam in 1975, raised in Denmark, and now is a conceptual artist living in Berlin. When he was four, his family fled a refugee camp in a homemade boat, and was rescued at sea by a Danish ship. His family’s assimilation to European culture and the world historical events that precipitated their flight from Vietnam are intertwined in his artistic practice, which juxtaposes historical and personal artifacts. The results highlight how history shapes identity.
This presentation at The Renaissance Society will be among the first solo exhibitions of Vo’s work in the United States. Danh Vo was born in Vietnam in 1975 and grew up in Denmark. He studied at the Royal Art Academy in Copenhagen and at Städelschule in Frankfurt. Recent solo exhibitions include Artists Space, New York in 2010, Kunsthalle Basel in 2009, and the Stedelijk Museum in 2008. He has been named a finalist for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s 2012 Hugo Boss Prize.
Images courtesy of The Renaissance Society, Chicago