Fragile Matter (2015) began nearly a decade earlier during a visit to the Tuol Sleng (S21) prison in Phnom Penh. The site is now s a solemn memorial site where evidence of the human atrocities perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge upon the Cambodian people are on display. On that site there is an image that moved me - a pile of the skull remains of the victims. For years I had wanted to react to that display through artwork and it wasn't until I started to experiment with the unique properties of Vietnamese spring roll paper made from rice that I found the appropriate form.
The rice paper emulates the different material states of the body: skin plasma when wet, cartilage when partially dried and bone when fully tried. The transparency also allows a special diffusion of light.
Although a prototype was made for my solo exhibition, Material Turn, in Korea, the work as an installation with lighting was first exhibited under the title "Lucid" in 2013 - specifically for installation at MAM Projects located within the Vietnamese Womens Museum (Bảo tàng Phụ nữ Việt Nam) in Hanoi.
For this exhibition the work aimed to remove the familiar from everyday objects found in the home by removing the obvious utility of banh trang (rice paper) as a food and takes advantage of its material properties to create aesthetic form. The installation consists of a series of skulls made entirely of banh trang placed on clear platforms and alit from track lighting below. The translucent qualities of the the banh trang allow light to pass through the material to create glowing lamps. The installation doubly functions as an external source of light and secondly as a metaphor of internal lucidity (clear thinking, enlightenment, brilliance).
Later, the rice paper forms in a different configuration and now with the historical context of the Khmer Rouge, was renamed "Fragile Matter" and exhibited as a part of the Southeast Asian Contemporary Art platform at Art Stage Singapore (2015), and then at the artist's solo exhibition at Dia Projects, HCMC. Fragile Matter was one of the thirty finalists 2016 Sovereign Art Prize in Hong Kong.
Vietnamese Womens Museum, Hanoi
Bảo tàng Phụ nữ Việt Nam
MAM Projects/Dia Projects, HCMC
Rice paper, shelving, LED track lighting