“I take things that already exist in the world and alter them,” Vo has said, “not just objects but systems and ideas.” This work is a disassembled three-tiered late-nineteenth-century crystal chandelier, made of gilt bronze with hundreds of beads. The chandelier is one of three such fixtures that once decorated the splendid ballroom of the Hôtel Majestic on avenue Kléber, in Paris, where the so-called Paris Peace Accords, the cease-fire agreement between the United States, North and South Vietnam, and the Viet Cong, was signed on January 27, 1973.
During the negotiations, this enormous emblem of wealth and power hung above a gigantic table and lent a tone of authority to an agreement that promised “peace with honor”—at the expense of South Vietnam, which would no longer exist. 08:43, 26.05 is a solemn sculpture that invokes the uneasy history of Vietnam, its colonial relationship with France, and the tragic decade of war with the United States. The title derives from the precise time and date of the chandelier’s dismantling from the former hotel; it was bought shortly thereafter by the artist at an auction and repurposed in his studio.
Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)