born in Takeo, Cambodia in 1984, investigates religious and spiritual beliefs, materials and rituals through sculpture, installation, video and performance. He graduated from Reyum Art School in 2005 and attended the Reyum Workshop in 2007, during which he collaborated with a number of visiting artists including Tran Luong and a group of Hanoi-based artists, and Eiko and Koma, with whom he toured the United States and Taiwan for the performance “Cambodian Stories”. Than Sok is currently studying architecture in Cambodia. His solo exhibitions include “The Halo of the Omnipresent Eye”, SA SA BASSAC, Phnom Penh (2012) and “Tragedy”, Bophana, Phnom Penh (2009). Selected group exhibitions include “Forever Until Now”, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery, Hong Kong (2009) and “Video: An Art, A History”, Singapore Art Museum (2011). Than Sok was a resident at Tokyo Wonder Site, Aoyama (2005) and at S-AIR: Sapporo Artists in Residence, Sapporo (2011).
MiddlegroundIn most agrarian cultures, farmers create a spiritual figure that has the strength to scare away anything that threatens their crops. In Cambodia, we call this figure dtingmul. Farmers use dried paddy straw to create a scarecrow shaped like a human and clothe it with their old clothes. In the dry season, the dtingmul stands on land, supported by a bamboo or wooden pole, but in the rainy season flooding can force the dtingmul stand alone for hectares, watching over the land, but in vain; there is nothing that can harm their crops because there are no crops.
The 2011 flooding of the rivers and land left so many farmers and families without work and food, and has destroyed homes and livelihoods. My family of ten lives on the banks of the Tonle Sap River in southern Phnom Penh. During the floods, the ground floor of our house was flooded totally, leaving us to live, eat, and sleep together on our roof for months.
For Riverscapes IN FLUX, I spent time with farmers in Takeo province – my homeland - to learn how to make dtingmul. I then could create ten figures to represent my family and I - measured to our heights and wearing our clothes. Restaged in the flood, together we wait, compromise, question usefulness, power, acceptance and hope.
Curated by: Erin Gleeson
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