Artist: Vong Phaophanit
Title: What falls to the ground but can't be eaten (Tok tem dean kep kin bo dai)
Vong Phaophanit
Published by Chisenhale, 1991
Paperback, colour and b+w illustrations, pp 24
Text by Claire Oboussier; interview with the artist by Jonathan Watkins

Perhaps the greatest danger when writing about work like Vong Phaophanit’s is to resort to the artist’s personal history to ‘explain’ the work. The use of this sort of “biographism” as a principle of explanation imposes immediate limitations on the work itself by grounding it as the unproblematic expression of a fixed identity. Phaophanit’s work moreover is fundamentally at odds with this system of interpretation in that it is not rooted in a preconceived meaning but rather engaged in the process of making new meanings. Therefore, important and valid as his personal experience undoubtedly is, its position in terms of the work is that of a point of departure and should not be taken to contain a hermeneutic authority.

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