BORCHs Butik will be showing selected photogravure works by the Danish-Vietnamese artist Danh Vō, all printed and published by Niels Borch Jensen. Works on show are among others Snowfall, Northern Sierras (2014), 17.01.1980 (2010), and A–Z (2013).
Snowfall, Northern Sierras (2014)
The ill-fated journey of the Donner-Reed party, a group of American pioneers who journeyed from Springfield, Illinois to California in 1847–48, is well known in the United States as the most disastrous overland migration endeavor. Instead of following the known California trail, the group took a less-explored shortcut, got trapped by a snowstorm in Sierra Nevada and, desperate and starving, resorted to cannibalism. The story is significant beyond its historical value; in American folklore, it has become a tale of American exceptionalism, of ignorance and arrogance.
The title of Danh Vō’s 17.01.1980 refers to the date the photo was taken. Vō’s first passport photo shows him wearing a girl’s dress his family had been gifted by a Christian charity. 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 later granted refuge in Denmark.
For the portfolio Flora Danica, a collaboration between BORCH Editions and the Natural History Museum of Denmark, nine contemporary Danish artists created contemporary prints working with historic copper plates. The Flora Danica (1761-1884), a comprehensive encyclopedic Enlightenment project, was a collaboration between scientists and engravers over a period of 123 years. The original copper plates, still in the possession of the Natural History Museum, formed the material for the contemporary Danish artists who each created a print using the original plates.
For the two-part gravure A – Z, Danh Vō had the first and last of the original copper plates printed – the beginning and end of an educational and artistic endeavor that spanned more than a century. Vō’s contribution to the Flora Danica portfolio illustrates the audacity of a communal educational and artistic effort that covered such a vast time span that its first and final contributors were not able to meet in person because their life spans did not overlap.
Learn more about Danh Vo