Critics’ Picks

Danh Vō, Lick Me, Lick Me, 2016, refrigerator, wood, polychrome, and 1st–2nd century marble Roman sculpture, 50 x 25 x 24".

Hong Kong

Danh Vō

White Cube | Hong Kong
50 Connaught Road
September 7–November 12

Danh Vō excels in arranging striking presentations from improbable associations between autobiographical innuendos and artifacts. On the ground floor, Lick Me, Lick Me, 2016, a fridge cooling a sixteenth-century wooden Jesus head, acts as a pedestal for a lump from a Roman Empire marble support. Or is it the marble, like an oversize paperweight, keeping the fridge grounded? The stairway holds 2.2.1861, 2009, one of the laborious transcriptions the artist’s father, Phùng Vō, has made of Théophane Vénard’s last correspondence to his father in 1861. In it, the French missionary compares his soon-to-be decapitated head, by way of a swift sword, to a freshly picked spring flower. Suggestively placed at the top of the stairway is Untitled 2016, a fourteenth-century crusader saber.

But the centerpiece of the exhibition is an installation on the first floor made of 450 variegated mammoth fossils and a seventeenth-century ivory Christ statuette suspended from the ceiling, its title a lengthy series of quotes from the 1973 film The Exorcist, including “Let Jesus fuck you!” and “You mother-fucking worthless cocksucker.” In contrast to its first showing in 2015, at the Crystal Palace of the Museo Nacional Centro de Reina Sofía in Madrid, where the Greek cross-shaped glass building designed by Ricardo Velázquez Bosco cased the installation in a sacred atmosphere, here the white walls and lights offer a rather undermining, forensic background.

One is then left amid the vulnerable yet enduring bones and wood, rolling between extremes in piety, guileless fervor, and blasphemous stupor.