Danh Vo, X, 2010. Vitrine made of dock oak originally used for decorative panels in Statens Museum for Kunst (designed by Vilhelm Dahlerup in 1896). 156 x 64 x 43 cm. Photo: Anders Sune Berg

Danh Vo, Milky Way, 2010. Vitrine made of dock oak originally used for decorative panels in Statens Museum for Kunst (designed by Vilhelm Dahlerup in 1896), 150 glass slides from the first American space walk, Gemini 4, from film flown on the mission, acquired from the personal collection of mission pilot Ed White II, later killed on Apollo 1, January 27, 1967, MacBook Air. 156 x 64 x 43 cm. Photo: Anders Sune Berg

Artworks: X and Milky Way

As a refugee and immigrant Danh Vo is in a state of transit, both culturally and in terms of identity; he is on a ceaseless journey through the contexts that constitute his identity. To Danh Vo identity is not an autonomous unity; rather, it is a fragile, compound, and easily influenced structure that is forever negotiated and changed.

The journey becomes a symbol of this concept of identity. In fact, the entire meaning of the term “journey” can be developed and return in mutated, yet new form. The wood used to build the two display cases featured at the exhibition has also undertaken such a “journey”. In 1896 some of the oak that originally formed the wharves at the Copenhagen harbour, thereby becoming conserved and stained by ocean water, was used for panels at the newly built National Gallery.

When these panels were taken down during a renovation in the 1960s, the Gallery’s cabinetmaker kept the wood. Today, it has been reincarnated as new display cases used for an unconventional presentation of various objects – or, more accurately, as sculptures that mime a very classic, museum-like way of exhibiting objects.