November 10, 2018 - Estancia FEMSA - Danh Vo: Garden with Pigeons in Flight
November 10, 2018

Estancia FEMSA

Elizabeth Timberman, Garden: Res Luis Barragán Arq Mexico DF, Esther McCoy papers, 1876-1990. Bulk, 1938-1989. Series 9: Photographs and Slides, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution Washington, D.C. 

Danh Vo
Garden with Pigeons in Flight
November 5, 2018–January 13, 2019

Inaugural event: November 10, 11am–3pm, Free Admission

Casa Luis Barragan
Col. Ampliación Daniel Garza
General Francisco Ramírez 12-14
C.P. 11840 Mexico City,
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Visits by appointment only

Estancia FEMSA and Casa Luis Barragán present a solo exhibition by the renowned Danish artist Danh Vo. The pieces and interventions in the exhibition—created specifically for this space—employ a series of silent, understated gestures to explore the life and architecture of the objects and people who have inhabited the Casa Luis Barragán. 

In the first part of the exhibition, Danh Vo reveals the invisible systems at work behind the scenes to ensure the smooth functioning of the house, as well as the conservation protocols performed by its staff. The artist proposes subtle changes to these maintenance routines, such as removing carpets to expose the traces left by the light over the years; quickly restoring certain spaces and pieces of furniture; and outfitting areas closed to the public. He also moves objects or exacerbates decorative elements, like floral arrangements made by employees, partly basing himself in specific vintage pictures of the house, such as Elizabeth Timberland's 1952 photographs found in Esther McCoy's archive. Thus the artist displays the temporal layers that have accumulated in the space, as well as the multiple transformations it has undergone since its construction. In this way, he emphasizes the impermanence of the house’s museographic discourse and interprets Barragán’s architecture as a living archive, an active laboratory of ideas.

The second part of the project is an installation in which Danh Vo has arranged numerous beeswax candles, made by master artisans in Oaxaca, all over the house. To produce the candles, the artisans set the wax in the sun for days to bleach their natural yellow color; assemble the candles layer by layer; and, finally, dye them with different densities of carmine. The interaction between the materials and the environment—and their transformation over time—is a constant source of fascination in Danh Vo’s work.

The candles allude to the historical lineage of carmine dye extracted from the cochineal insect: a pre-Hispanic technique with a cultural application that survived the Viceroyalty and became an essential part of the economy from New Spain. The ceremonial character of these candles also evokes the Catholic faith, which is a central subject both in Barragán’s life and work and in Danh Vo’s own explorations (albeit in a very different way). In using these specific elements from Mexican cultural history, the artist reflects on colonization, globalization, and the re-signification that occurs when objects are removed from one context and then “migrate” into another.

This installation will create new experiences for visitors to the Casa Luis Barragán. As the lighted candles burn down during the exhibition, guests will be able to visit the house at dusk, to witness a new dialogue between light and shadow in the space.

Danh Vo (Bà Rịa, Vietnam, 1975)
Danh Vo studied at KADK-The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Denmark and at the Städelschule in Frankfurt, Germany. He’s been awarded with the Hugo Boss Prize in 2012 and the Blauorange Kunstpreis by the Deutsche Volksbanken und Raiffeisenbanken in 2007; in 2009 he was nominated for the Preis der Nationalgalerie für junge Kunst in Germany. His most important exhibitions include: Danh Vo, CAPC Bordeaux (2018); Danh Vo: Take My Breath Away, Guggenheim Museum, New York and SMK Copenhagen (2018); Ng Teng Fong Roof Garden Commission series: Danh Vo, National Gallery Singapore (2016-17); Hip Hip Hurra, SMK- National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen (2010); among others. Danh Vo participated in the International Art Exhibition at the 55th Venice Biennial (2012) and represented Denmark at the 56th Venice Biennial (2015) with the exhibition mothertongue. Danh Vo currently lives in Mexico City.

Estancia FEMSA
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Garden with Pigeons in Flight
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