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

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release