We the People at the Oriental Institute | The scene
Artist Danh Vo’s model fragments of the Statue of Liberty are installed in Hyde Park.
Monday, September 10, 7:48am Next to 2,700-year-old Assyrian stone reliefs inside the Oriental Institute’s Khorsabad Court, five professional art movers struggle to position a massive piece of molded copper, an exact replica of the Statue of Liberty’s right cheekbone, eye and hair line. It’s one of hundreds of Lady Liberty fragments created by Danish-Vietnamese artist Danh Vo for his conceptual work We the People. “It’s the counterpoint—or collision—of the ancient and the contemporary,” says Susanne Ghez, executive director of the Renaissance Society. “I was a little nervous about getting it safely through the door.” Ghez’s nearly century-old Hyde Park contemporary-art institution curated Vo’s exhibit, which includes five pieces on view this fall at the University of Chicago’s Law School, Booth Business School and Oriental Institute museum; five more will be displayed at the Art Institute. Seeing as Vo has dispersed dozens of Liberty’s faux fragments to locations around the world, is We the People a metaphor for the exportation—and dilution—of American ideals? The fragility of freedom? A not-so-perfect union? The artist lets you decide.