Danh Vo makes powerful use of fragments – fragments of objects and fragments of stories – to explore issues of self-identity and cultural heritage. His early experiences of fleeing political tensions in Vietnam with his family and assimilating into European culture in Denmark left a lasting impression that form the foundation of his practice.

Vo often displays fragments of objects and documents that represent Western values to create emotionally and symbolically charged sculptures that explore how meaning changes with context. His 2011 project We the People saw the Statue of Liberty reconstructed on a 1:1 scale in fragments that have since been scattered across the world to emphasize the abstract nature of freedom, while his large-scale installation of the skeleton of a 200-year-old Catholic church from Vietnam that was erected for Massimiliano Gioni’s The Encyclopedic Palace at the Venice Biennale brought to mind the impact of colonialism on the foundational identities of non-Western countries.

Vo joins Hirshhorn curator-at-large Gianni Jetzer to discuss the role that objects can play in defining and interrogating our cultural heritage. 

This virtual event is part of Talking to Our Time. the Hirshhorn’s online series of free artist talks featuring a diverse group of artists and collectives. View all events!

Image: Tada Yukai, 2014.