“Slip of the tongue” at Punta della Dogana
Danh Vo has been invited to collaborate with Palazzo Grassi – Punta della Dogana – Pinault Collection not only as an artist but also as a curator, working with the collection in conjunction with a number of invited artists. Indeed, it is the first time that the foundation invites an artist as a curator at Punta della Dogana in Venice. The vicissitudes of conservation, circulation, trade, dismemberment, dispersal, tinkering, restoration, collecting and exhibiting are not specific to the care for the “well-being” of works of art. They are intrinsically part of their stories, composing a history in transition that is sometimes broken by ruptures and shaped by destruction.
Hence, the historical core of the exhibition consists of pieces from Venetian institutions such as the Accademia Gallery and the Institute of Art History of Giorgio Cini Foundation. These works of art bear scars attained during their various preservation processes, which ultimately changed their shape. At times, brutal remodeling was inflicted. There are, for example, fragments of paintings that were mutilated or reduced in order to be “adapted” to a new setting. Or the miniature paintings that are the products of the cutting of choir books illuminated by artist monks. Following the suppression of monastic orders in the Napoleonic era, the London market had a voracious appetite for these selected pages.
“Slip of the Tongue” addresses these historical mishaps. The title of the exhibition is borrowed from the artist Nairy Baghramian (born in 1971), who has been in active conversation with Danh Vo. Three of her installations are presented. Indeed, the exhibition can also be seen as an attempt at mapping friendship, as several other artistic interlocutors are included in the exhibition as well as in its production. Its beating heart consists in two extraordinary ensembles by American artist Nancy Spero (1926-2010). First of all, the magnificent Codex Artaud (1971-72), which consists of 34 fragile rolls made of strips of paper covered with a hybrid form of writing-drawing-painting; they can be read as an attempt by the American artist to “restore” the fury and frustration that reached the point of incandescence in the language of French author Antonin Artaud. In Cri du Coeur (2004), her last monumental installation, Spero “adapts” the intimate pain of mourning by conjuring thousands of people who are, at the same time, hit by the disaster of war or environmental catastrophes, all anonymous and unnamed individuals with whom she establishes a link.
Other curatorial projects by Danh Vo combine both the personal and social dimensions of relationships around artists, some of whom he never met, such as Felix Gonzalez Torres (2009, Wiels Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels), Martin Wong (2013, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York), as well as his friend Julie Ault (2013, Artists Space, New York). Some objects presented also carry both an individual and a collective meaning, such as the chandeliers of the Paris Majestic Hotel, which were silent witnesses to the negotiations on the future of Vietnam, in 1975 – the same year the artist was born in Vietnam. In the light of this notion, one can also like Danh Vo’s work “as artist” to the different kinds of caretaking that have sprung from this root word over the centuries. The conversation begins and continues among the 39 artists invited by Danh Vo, to which a photograph by Robert Manson gives an emblematic twist. It shows a grasshopper and the hand on which it stands, supporting it, both fixed in their mutual attention.
Lozano Lee Lozano, No Title (toilet lid), c. 1962-1963
© The Estate of Lee Lozano
ph: © The Estate of Lee Lozano
Danh Vo, Beauty Queen, 2013
Ph: Charlotte du Genestoux
Danh Vo, Log Dog (detail), 2013
Courtesy of the artist and kurimanzutto, Mexico City
Ph: Estudio Michel Zabé, 2013
Danh Vo, Oma Totem, 2009
Photo: Jacopo Menzani
Installation view: Last Fuck, 01 Milano, 2009
Collezione privata, Torino
Lo Savio Francesco Lo Savio, Filtro a rete, 1962
Installation view at Punta della Dogana 2009
Ph: © Palazzo Grassi, ORCH orsenigo_chemollo
Lavier Bertrand Lavier, Gabriel Gaveau, 1981
Ph: André Morin
© Bertrand Lavier, by SIAE 2015
Foto di copertina:
Punta della Dogana
© Palazzo Grassi, ph: ORCH orsenigo_chemollo