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PRINT February 2010

TERRA INCOGNITA: THE ART OF DANH VO

Photograph from Danh Vo’s artist book Hic Sunt Leones (in collaboration with Julie Ault; Kunsthalle Basel, 2009).

OFFICIALLY SPEAKING, the Vietnam War concluded in Paris on January 27, 1973, at the Centre de Conférences Internationales—an imposing belle epoque edifice that had begun its stately life as the Hôtel Majestic. There, in a grand ballroom furnished with baize-covered tables, the Paris Peace Accords were signed by representatives of the United States, North Vietnam, South Vietnam, and the Vietcong. These dark-suited dignitaries went through the motions in silence—indeed, according to a reporter for the New York Times, “the scene was as glum as the drizzly, gray Paris sky outside.” The mood stemmed from widespread doubts as to whether the peace would hold. And, of course, it didn’t.

The conference center has remained largely unchanged in the more than three decades since this ill-fated ceremony. Last year, however, the space was finally closed for renovations, and during this

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