Lady Liberty Deconstructed: Danh Vo “We The People” in NYC

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See this review published on Metro New York June 18, 2014

A lunchtime stroll this week through either City Hall or Brooklyn Bridge Park will be less about smelling the roses and more about viewing the first large-scale public exhibition in NYC by Vietnamese artist Danh Vo. Sponsored by Public Art Fund, “We The People” is an interactive installation of oversized copper sculptures sharing the quiet terrain of a downtown Manhattan park.

In varying sizes and shapes, spanning the length of the two parks, the pieces slowly emerge from disparate abstractions into a conceptual puzzle. As viewers playfully put the pieces together, “We The People” becomes more than an “Alice in Wonderland” world of gargantuan lawn ornaments. It’s a 1:1 replica of Frederic Auguste Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty.

Using the exact fabrication and materials of 19th-century France, Vo recreated Lady Liberty in about 250 pieces and dispersed them throughout exhibition venues in more than 15 countries. The NYC show presents nearly a fifth of Vo’s project.

At City Hall Park, stroll between dispersed groupings of abstract copper sculptures that range from ornate Victorian-era lawn decor to stark minimalist objects. In addition to Lady Liberty herself, Vo designed a flower garden at the southern entrance of the park. Cross the water to Brooklyn Bridge Park to view three colossal sculptures that have been assembled from 13 individual pieces of the statue. Comprised of flowers and plants that were catalogued by 19th-century French missionaries, “We The People” continually looks to the past in order to reshape the future.

As an icon of democratic freedom, the Statue of Liberty never shies from the global view. By displacing the Lady Liberty into multiple parts, Vo transforms a famous icon on a human scale, reflecting a contemporary approach to defining freedom on an individual level.

If you go

‘We The People’
Through Dec. 5
City Hall and Brooklyn Bridge Park
Open daily during park hours
212-223-7800
http://www.publicartfund.org

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