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Danh Vo (b.1975)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Danh Vo (b.1975)

Nescafé

Details
Danh Vo (b.1975)
Nescafé
gold leaf on cardboard
22 5/8 x 37 ¼in. (58 x 94.6cm.)
Executed in 2010
Provenance
Galerie Buchholz, Berlin.
Private Collection, Italy.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.

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Lot Essay

‘I don’t really believe in my own story, not as a singular thing anyway. It weaves in and out of other people’s private stories of local history and geopolitical history. I see myself, like any other person, as a container that has inherited these infinite traces of history without inheriting any direction. I try to compensate for this, I’m trying to make sense out of it and give it a direction for myself’
–Danh Vo


In Nescafé, an arresting work in gold leaf on a flattened cardboard box, Danh Vo powerfully appropriates an instantly recognisable symbol. From the raw cardboard ground emerges a rendition of the American flag, with the stars and stripes brought forth in gleaming gilt; in replicating this image, Vo joins an illustrious lineage of artists, including Jasper Johns, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Barbara Kruger. It is executed on a box that once contained the products of the titular coffee brand, a ubiquitous feature in shops and homes across the world. In this fusion of Nescafé and star-spangled banner, Vo spotlights the United States’ association with commercialism and globalisation. His choice of a thirteen-starred version of the flag further implies that this relationship was present from the young nation’s foundation. ‘As well as colonising the world with corporate brands,’ notes Adrian Searle in a review of Vo’s work, ‘America colonised itself, building a nation and wreaking havoc on its natives and its ecology’ (A. Searle, ‘Art among the ruins: Danh Vo’s perverse empires,’ The Guardian, 21 January 2015). In choosing to work with gold leaf, Vo evokes wealth and permanence; the gilt is applied by hand in Thailand, where it has a spiritual prestige due to its use in Buddhist temples. The cardboard box was collected by the artist from a recycling dump at the end of its shipping cycle, and thus carries contrasting connotations of migration and transience, themes that reverberate through Vo’s own life. When he was four years old, Vo and his family fled Vietnam by boat. Adrift at sea, they were intercepted by a Maersk container ship, and subsequently taken to Denmark. Nescafé thus also carries a deeply personal sense of providence: the existences of both the work and its creator are contingent on the very global transportation of goods he critiques.

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