Danh Vo - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, May 14, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    kurimanzutto, Mexico City

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I had been in Spain, thinking of beer brands like León, which has the seal of the Spaniards, and Pacifico, which was made because they were trying to seduce people to think it was a quiet ocean to cross. All this information existed within the idea of the beer brands, and it was obvious for me to want to work with them because it was so perverse.” Danh Vō, 2014

    In his deeply political investigation of colonialism and the geographies of cultural identity, Danh Vō’s Corona Victoria Box, 2014 challenges our expectations about a familiar relic of human consumption. The indirect manner by which Vō poses these questions leaves much to our own interpretations, through our highly personal understandings of histories as blasphemies in a post-colonial, Eurocentric society. Even those viewers with the narrowest of perspectives can apprehend the afterglow Vō casts over the phenomena that make such disconcerting injustices not only possible, but also real. The sociopolitical dialogues speaking within the present lot tell stories certainly as difficult as his own—fleeing Vietnam in 1979 with his family in a boat built by the hands of his father and rescued at sea by a Danish merchant ship to settle in Copenhagen, Vō’s privileges no identity over another and affirms no culture can be entirely self-sufficient.

    The treasure trove of buried ideas and geographies remain concealed in the guise of the cardboard in the present lot. From the Thai gold-pounders who produce the gold leaf, to the factory laborers who fabricate the cardboard and to Vō’s delicate application of the leaf, the impressions of many hands linger and leave their trace. The exchange between the tawdry cardboard box and the opulence of the gold suggests the attractiveness of Western materialism through the dichotomy of the valuable gold leaf application to a discardable box of imported Mexican beer. “The information is not hidden, but there are structures that don’t make these things visible; there are always structures that reduce common knowledge,” the artist has said. “I really like situations where we don’t understand how things were constructed. There’s a lot of reasons why the world is shaped how it is today, but these things are not very visible.” (M. Slenske, “Uncovering Danh Vo’s Revelatory Practice,” ArtInfo) The intuitive ambivalence by which Vo dissects value, labor, and the interchange of peoples allows new narratives to emerge that are acutely felt, unnervingly subtle and all the while perpetually engaged in resistance.


Cease to know or to tell. Or to see or to be your own. Have someone else's will as your own

Phung Vo's handwriting and gold leaf on found Mexican beer (Corona-Victoria) cardboard box
20 1/2 x 52 1/4 in. (52.1 x 132.7 cm)

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $233,000

Contact Specialist
Amanda Stoffel
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1261

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Evening Sale 14 May 2015 7pm