San Art presents Space/Limit, a solo project by artist Phan Quang
‘Space / Limit’ is an exhibition concerned with the social habits, expectations and desires of contemporary society. How does popular media, cultural myth and custom, or ideas of class affect the way we live our lives? From K-Pop in our televised lounge rooms, to the family expectations of marriage, to the urban planning of our movement through the city in which we live, to our desire for leisure as luxury brand consumption or the weekend escape to a country paradise – such rituals are familiar to contemporary communities across the world, but how do such behaviors become regulated, marketed and thus stereotyped in our world? What is the affect of living as part of a collective, a community, a nation? How can an individual maintain integrity within a community while seeking innovation beyond what is already practiced or believed? For Phan Quang, an artist who is drawn to the resilience, knowledge and skills of the working class, particularly the largely agricultural community of Bao Loc with whom he continues to live and work, it is through the medium and use of ‘mum’, a kind of bamboo, that he finds a metaphorical and historical tool of artistic reference.
Across the broader Asian region, mum is a material of great strength, durability and support used in building construction, furniture and handicrafts. It is also found woven as dome-like cages, typically housing chickens and commonly found on both urban and rural street corners. Such structures, what Phan Quang prefers to consider as ‘mobile homes’, are of significant influence within this exhibition. Composed of photography, sculpture and a large-scale installation that will significantly transform the gallery entrance of San Art, Phan Quang photographically and physically reproduces this symbol as a home and a limit. Regardless of where these mobile homes are placed, does our behavior adapt to local conditions or do we transfer the limits of previous habits? How do these habits determine our values and principles and what kind of responsibility do we hold to the sustainability of cultural and social difference?
Phan Quang states, ‘My idea of ‘limit’ is a story of an individual, examining the limits that I have set for myself in my habits and daily behavior. How can I improve these limits to be able to live a better life? For this exhibition, I have created bamboo cages that look similar to those made for birds and poultry. Such objects are a metaphor for me to visually challenge understanding of my personal space, my home, where I belong and feel most confident. This kind of structure I use to refer my own social self, a self affected and influenced by mass media, material greed, the myths, illusions and dreams in my mind that counteract with the community in which I live and work, with the places I visit and the various social rituals that I keep repeating. This meeting of desire and reality can affect the worldview and awareness of anyone; it may be beneficial but can also create subjective isolation. I want to awaken the consciousness of myself and the way I communicate with the world, perhaps the cages surrounding me could be removed and become a hollow porous material that is easily overcome.’
Phan Quang (b. 1976, Binh Dinh) currently lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City. He studied Economics, graduating from University of Economics HCMC in 1999; subsequently working for various well-known photographers before starting his own commercial photographic studio ‘Stop & Go’ in 2004. Drawn to the power of photography as a medium that can both disturb and reflect ideas of truth, Phan Quang’s artistic practice today also encompasses sculpture, installation and video, often produced in close collaboration with local artisans and farmers in Bao Loc. His work was given solo feature at Galerie Quynh in Ho Chi Minh City in 2010, in addition to inclusion in recent group exhibitions hosted by the Kadist Art Foundation, San Francisco, USA and the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum, Vietnam in 2012; the Institute Francais of Cambodia and Kumho Museum of Art, South Korea in 2011.
‘Space / Limit’ opens Thursday 28 February @ 6pm @ San Art. Exhibition will be on view until 26 April, 2013.
Address: 3 Me Linh, District Binh Thanh, Ho Chi Minh City.
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‘Space / Limit’ would not be possible without the support of the British Council.