danh vō - garden with pigeons in flight
From November 5, 2018 to January 13, 2018, Estancia FEMSA and the Casa Luis Barragán present a solo exhibition by the renowned Danish artist Danh Vō (Bà Rịa, Vietnam, 1975). 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 Casa Luis Barragán.
In the first part of the exhibition, Danh Vō reveals the invisible systems at work behind the scenes to ensure the smooth functioning of the house, as well as the conservation efforts performed by its staff. The artist proposes subtle changes to their 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. 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 Vō 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 Vō'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 New Spanish economy. The ceremonial nature of these candles also evokes the Catholic faith, which is a central subject both in Barragán’s life and work and in Danh Vō'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 Casa Luis Barragán. As the lighted candles burn down during the exhibition, guests will encounter a sunset inside the space: a new internal dialogue between light and shadow.
Trad. Robin Myers; Rev. Javier Ledesma