Where you might expect to find a detail such as ‘oil on canvas’, or ‘cast bronze’, or even ‘car engine’, Vo gives us the full scoop on his indecorousÂ found object. A wall plaque opens theÂ bonnet.
Indeed. This contemporary sculpture is comprised of â€œThe engine of the artistâ€™s father Phung Voâ€™s Mercedes Benz.â€ Provenance is all: from family car to museum collection.
And in the year this piece was made, Mercedes began using the German title as their advertising slogan. So there are two found objects working together like piston and cylinder in this work.
This is a family whoÂ fled their home and, after a dramatic rescue at sea,Â they settled in Denmark. A keen business sense spurred the artistâ€™s father on to buy â€˜the best or nothing at allâ€™.
In a pristine gallery, this piece is monstrous. And there is something oedipal about its evisceration of his father’s achievements. Does Vo junior referÂ to das Beste with pride or with irony?
Dad made it as a businessman;Â this is his portrait. He must have once have dreamed about owning this car; he might not have dreamed about the extra mileage it would give his son.
In a white cube such as this,Â Phung Vo’s car becomes a bride stripped bare, a commodity divested ofÂ fetishism, a mapÂ of desire, and a deconstruction of a luxuryÂ brand. All thanks to the label.
This piece can be seen until 3 May 2015 in The Art of Our Time: Masterpieces of the Guggenheim Collection at the Museo Guggenheim in Bilbao.