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Danh Vō in In the Eye of the Beholder

18 November 2022—17 June 2023
Group exhibition at Magasin III, Stockholm, Sweden

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The collection presentation In the Eye of the Beholder consists for the main part of photographic portraits, but also drawings, sculptures, and moving images of depictions—portraits if you will—based on different ways of beholding. We see examples of introspective and psychologically probing self-portraits; depictions that disclose an intimacy and mutual trust between artist and subject; and even inquisitive and voyeuristic observations of individuals and their contexts from a critical distance.

The act of beholding can be expressed in various ways and can involve conflicting emotions and perspectives. To regard someone in actuality is to confirm their existence; therefore, the intention behind this act is presumably sprung from some sense of curiosity or interest in the person regarded. Nonetheless, an observant gaze can be experienced as exposing and intrusive if it steps over a (sometimes indeterminate) boundary. How we observe ourselves and others is therefore a complex question that in our times daily compels us to take a stand on. The works in this exhibition have arisen out of countless driving forces and divergent contexts. What they all share is the exploration of oneself and others. The act of beholding, initially a tool of the artist, is now delegated to the eye of the museum visitor – the beholder next down the line.

The photogravure Portrait of a hand depicts Danh Vō’s grandmother posing for a photograph. The title of the work directs the viewer’s attention to the woman’s left hand hanging from the armrest. Danh Vō often uses family photographs for his photogravure projects, embedding his own family’s biography in a wider historical context. Following the 1975 fall of Saigon to North-Vietnamese forces, the new communist regime initiated reeducation programs and force relocations, which lead many Vietnamese citizens to leave the country. Vō’s family escaped on a self-built boat, which was intercepted by a Danish shipping freighter. The family was granted refuge in Denmark.