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Vong Phaophanit

What Falls to the Ground but Cannot be Eaten.
19 June - 28 July 1991


What Falls To The Ground But Cannot Be Eaten is an installation by Laotian artist Vong Phaophanit. It consists of two main elements: a forest of bamboo suspended from the ceiling of the gallery covering an area of 10x5m, and a monumental archway made of lead-covered wooden blocks, inscribed with Laotian text. The artist’s selection of materials is key to this work:

In Laos bamboo is everywhere; we use it for constructing houses, as a cooking utensil, for canalizing water, for storage purposes, we eat it, we sleep on it, we make musical instruments with it. Its uses and forms are infinite…and then lead came to me as an equally strong but very different presence over here. I saw that the two would work beautifully together, reciprocally opening each other up both on a visual and discursive level.

The relationship between the two elements of the work became crucial. The austere archway entrance was reminiscent of civic and ecclesiastical architecture, whereas the natural forms of the suspended bamboo create a light, organic feel. The work reflects the bizarre incongruities resulting from a collision of different cultures, and was informed to a large extent by the artist’s experience as a political refugee.

Vong Phaophanit was born in the People's Democratic Republic of Laos in 1961. From 1980 to 1985, he was educated in France at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Aix. He currently lives and works in the UK.

Click here for the accompaning publication to this exhibtion in the shop.




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