DANH VO: TAKE MY BREATH AWAY / by Caitlin Murray

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David Salle
NYRB, May 10 2018

Vo makes art by taking objets from the world - a washing machine, a chandelier, a car engine, a pen nib - and bringing them, sometimes with minimal alteration or none at all, into the museum. As an idea, this is certainly not new, but to assume that Vo's work has anything to do with Marcel Duchamp's readymades strikes me as wrong. The impulse is different. Duchamp's snow shovel and bottle rack are anonymous and semi-ironic, idiotic even, in that amusing Dada way. Vo's objects are, for the most part, highly specific; they are the visual equivalent of poetry's "objective correlative." Everything in Vo's art comes with a story; his objects point to the way that things close to us - a signet ring, a marriage contract, or very ordinary things, like a cardboard box - are embedded in a web of connections with the larger world. 

It doesn't happen every time, but there is an aesthetic transference that can occur at the level of display. His best work refers to more than one thing, and even though transparent by design, still retains some mystery that can't be easily explained. 

the wall text / "leading the witness"

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the synecdoche / the objective correlative