B. 1975, Vietnam
Year | 2011-13
Dimensions | 222 x 150 x 69 cm
Medium | Copper
Danh Vō is a conceptual artist. His family settled in Denmark when he was 4 years old. The family’s assimilation into European culture and the events that led up to their flight from Vietnam are reflected in Vō’s art. His works are often composed of documents, photos and appropriations of works of other artists. Together, they address the issues of identity and belonging. Danh Vō has been based in Berlin, Germany since 2005.
About the work |
A portion of a giant hand, rendered in hammered copper and supported by a skeletal wooden frame, currently greets visitors on the Guggenheim Museum’s top ramp. The piece is just one of more than three hundred that comprise artist Danh Vo’s work We the People (2011–16)—component parts of the Statue of Liberty, which Vo recreated, at scale, in sections. Some of those sections, like the hand, are recognizable, while others are near-abstractions, as a fold of drapery or the line of an eyelid is reduced to its essential forms. We the People’s parts can be found around the globe, with individual pieces or small groupings exhibited here and there. “Let her travel, let her be spread around,” Vo has said. “Let it just be this fluid mass that travels and becomes something very different.”
Vo’s work leaves the door open for varied interpretations of the Statue of Liberty. As curator Katherine Brinson notes in the exhibition catalogue for the Guggenheim’s retrospective, one thread he follows in his repositioning of the statue is its status as an “instantly decipherable symbol of the American brand of freedom throughout the world.” Looking at the hand and other fragments in the exhibition, we are invited to think more deeply about the statue’s familiarity, and about what freedom—and in particular the “American brand” of it that has loomed large globally since before the statue’s 1886 dedication—has meant in the world.
– excerpt from ‘Danh Vo’s We The People and Another Look at the Statue of Liberty’ by Caitlin Dover for Guggenheim