|As it is difficult for me to try to describe even the next sculpture that I will do, so is it a big challenge to try to talk about what I will do for shows at the end of the year. Part of the reason is that my sculptures develop slowly. I am very intuitive in my approach, and each piece is very labor-intensive.|
As it is difficult for me to try to describe even the next sculpture that I will do, so is it a big challenge to try to talk about what I will do for shows at the end of the year. Part of the reason is that my sculptures develop slowly. I am very intuitive in my approach, and each piece is very labor-intensive.
Theme-wise, I am preoccupied most of the time by my early childhood memories during and just after the Khmer Rouge. I have very clear images of that time, and I feel the need for some of it to be in the work, or for the work to resonate with things from that time. It is not an attempt to describe but instead to give some kind of form to the experience. The other thing is that I am trying to combine other materials with the bamboo and rattan. As I don’t throw things I use away, I also want to combine those or transform them to be part of my sculptures. In Cambodia, very few things get thrown away. I’ve also been buying useful, cheap, low-quality objects that are made here. Since we import just about everything from other countries, I want to give life to the objects I choose. I like simple objects like rakes, cutting boards, rice sacks, and burlap because they are made to be affordable by everybody—normally this is stuff that poor people work with.
It’s also important to keep in mind that my sculptures tend to look abstract, as they arrive at the end from an organic process. I move with the pull of the sculptures’ tendencies, so changes also happen slowly. I have to trust my intuition in deciding whether a work is complete or not. I want my objects to have their own lives, also, meaning that they should not be limited by my intention. They should be open to other peoples’ understanding also. They should have traces of me but not be completely just about me. There is also some tendency to revisit some of the older works from the past four years as well and make other variations that has been in my mind for a long time. My first finished work of this year, for example, is a variation from a 2005 work called Stalk.
For the Asia Pacific Triennial, I want to make some kind of installation relating to my early childhood. I am working on this at the moment. It’s still early, but I am making a form that references the unexploded bombs I saw on the road trip on foot with my family from the Khmer Rouge village to Battambang provincial town in 1979, just after the fall of the regime. The scene was something you’d see in a place just days after a war, so the images are still strong. As I was very young, I couldn’t identify many things I saw and they still linger in my mind, some by forms, others by colors. I have been working with a craftsman from Battambang, my birthplace, to make me sculptures of farm animals to combine with the installation.