Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - An artist explores ‘instinct’



An artist explores ‘instinct’

Artist Tith Kanitha next to one of her untitled sculptures for her new exhibition Instinct.
Artist Tith Kanitha next to one of her untitled sculptures for her new exhibition Instinct. Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

An artist explores ‘instinct’

In the white-walled exhibition room of Sa Sa Bassac gallery lives, for the time being, a collection of amorphous wire sculptures, hanging from the walls and ceiling, or draped over pedestals, as part of a solo show by Tith Kanitha, which opens tonight.

Though it is called Instinct, the show is untitled in Khmer, Kanitha’s native language. The reason for that, the 30-year-old says, is because there simply isn’t a proper translation in the Cambodian language.

“When I open the old Chuon Nath dictionary I find the word ‘saphea veak’, which means ‘the original form of nature’,” she says, referring to a widely used Khmer dictionary. For Kanitha, that translation is not satisfactory, and the search for understanding of the concept is at the heart of her show.

“What is instinct?” she asks. “Is it the instinct to survive?”

Kanitha, who, in addition to her sculpture, has been involved in several performances and film projects over the past few years, says she first learned the word in English back in 2013 at a residency in New York City for Cambodian artists at which she was told: “follow your instincts”. Since then she has toyed with the concept.

“It keeps changing . . . It can be a concept without form,” she says. Shaping that form is what she has attempted with her sculptures.

“In front of you it’s just wire. How is it instinct?”

The answer may be in Kanitha’s process, which involved hundreds of hours of winding nearly 60 spools of steel wire around a copper rod into tight spring-like filaments.

“It’s like a meditation . . . I stay in one place while my brain is working,” she says, adding that in those hours her mind would ponder moral and social questions.

“Why are we [Cambodians] living like this? Everyone is corrupt, [so] why have we adapted to this attitude of everyone just hurting everyone?” she says she asked herself.

As she let herself think, she would assemble the wire tendrils into shapes, made without a plan – only instinct. It’s up to the audience, she says, to question what the sculptures mean.

“I’m challenging the audience that if you don’t question your instinct, maybe you forgot [what it is].”

Instinctopens tonight at Sa Sa Bassac at 6pm and runs through April 26. Free admission.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Angkor photo rules clarified

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) denied that it had banned the use of camera tripods in the Angkor Archaeological Park, explaining that the confusion stemmed from a long-standing rule which required commercial photographers and videographers to apply for permission to film. The explanation followed a

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At