As eerie as his theatrical display of mammoth fossils might seem, Danh Vō’s first solo exhibition at White Cube’s Hong Kong outpost nevertheless offers a timely reflection on modern day questions about identity.
The Vietnamese-born Danish artist’s collection of some 450 ancient bones and a 17th-century ivory statue of Christ – suspended from the ceiling of the gallery's upper floor – has been shown before, as part of his 2015 ‘Banish the Faceless/Reward your Grace’ exhibition in Madrid. Here, it takes on a new dimension within the brightly-lit, sheer white gallery.
'It has a completely different energy and spirit to before,' observes the show's curator, White Cube director Mathieu Paris. 'He likes to frame the work in a space, taking the form from the room to create a new conversation.'
The ground floor, meanwhile, provides a stark contrast with just two works: a 16th-century sculpture of Christ's head inside a contemporary fridge topped with a Roman sculpture of a lion. Nearby, is the artist's iconic gold leaf Budweiser box.
'He works with fragments,' Paris explains. ‘The ivory sculpture, for instance, is a reflection on ivory trafficking, highlighting the confrontation between the material and message.’
Like all his works, the exhibition is an intensely personal reflection on his and his family’s history. Born in South Vietnam, Vō grew up in Denmark, after being rescued by a Danish commercial tanker from a boat his father had constructed in order to flee the country.
The artist says he was especially keen to exhibit in Hong Kong, not least because, as a city of economic and political refugees, it reflects his own mediations on dislocation.