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Danh Vo


Ink on paper, writing by Phung Vo
21 x 29,7 cm

“A slight strike of a sword will behead me, like a spring flower picked by the garden Master for pleasure”. It is one of the sentences out of the last letter of St. Jean Théophane Vénard to his father before he was decapitated. For 02.02.1861, Danh Vo outsources his art production to his father, who is instructed to mechanically copy Vénard’s letter as a purchasable edition, until his own death or until demand runs out. Each handwritten text arrives in an envelope mailed by the artist’s father directly to the buyer.

The edition upsets the intimacy of a deeply emotional farewell letter, now massproduced by Vo’s father, penned in a language (French) which Vo’s Vietnamese father neither reads nor writes. Familiar with his father’s handwriting from all the signs and menus that he handwrote for the various food stalls he owned in Denmark, Danh Vo became interested in calligraphy as an act of pure labor, comparing writing calligraphy to making a burger.

This farewell letter perverted into art machine challenges the viewer’s expectations, as does the foldable cardboard box that was originally mailed by Danh Vo to Mr. Krishna Wannakul in Bangkok. When pieced together, the box is dressed up like a Budweiser crate, adorned in gold, more fitting to this ‘King of Beers’, the most desired and consumed beer in the USA. On the inside, it reads - in beautiful calligraphy – “Your mother sucks cocks in Hell“, excerpted from line delivered by the demon in The Exorcist (1973).


Danh Vo