Oak and brass vitrine, 20th century; walnut Madonna and Child, France, mid 15th century; bronze axe head, Bronze Age (Ed.Unique)
Artwork: 184,3 × 99,2 × 63,7 cm, 156 kg (72 9/16 × 39 1/16 × 25 1/16 in, 343,9 lb)
Danh Vo reactivates fragments of history in installations that explore the processes of shaping identities, heritages and cultural values, through a juxtaposition of diverse materials and objects gleaned from various merchants and auctions. The artist manages to simultaneously address political and religious history, its great conquests and its fallen empires, using his own life as a link. It is through the intimate prism that temporality becomes malleable - a material that he can cut up and combine with a collagist's approach.
Untitled (2020) consists of a mid-15th-century walnut Virgin and Child and a Bronze Age axe head, both enclosed in a 20th-century oak and brass display case. These objects bear various traces of the wear and tear of time, and some of them have also been altered by the artist himself - part of the Virgin's head, as well as that of the child, are cut out in a straight line. Here, in addition to the fragmentation of the ruin, there is a mechanical cutting, a gesture of appropriation by which the artist exercises his power and rights as owner over a culturally symbolic piece. A flower, the nasturtium, which the artist introduced at the time of the exhibition, is added to this ensemble, through which a transhistorical dialogue is developed.
The plant also introduces a new temporality into Danh Vo's work: the fragile, ephemeral temporality of the living, which continues to grow as best it can amid the vestiges of the past. The nasturtium also gives its name to the vast installation - Tropeaolum - on display in the rotunda of the Bourse de Commerce, of which this work is part. This term, derived from the ancient Greek tropaion, literally means "trophy". The delicacy of this flower would seem to be a ruse to conceal its assumption of power: it is now up to the plant kingdom to reclaim the world, starting with the museum space, forced to deal with the constraints of lighting and conservation that it requires.
Photo : Heinz Peter Knes © Tadao Ando Architect & Associates, Niney et Marca Architectes, Agence Pierre-Antoine Gatier.
Photo : Aurélien Mole © Tadao Ando Architect & Associates, Niney et Marca Architectes, Agence Pierre-Antoine Gatier