Comprising of 150 spirit houses, Tragedy 1 is a visually arresting work that holds an olfactory component, with each spirit house dense with some 100 incense sticks. Closer inspection shows each house also bears the striking features of ‘scars’, such as chasms or gaping roofs, having been set aflame by the artist. Handmade, each house is unique in construction, and so too, singular in the damage suffered when torched. The work can be seen as symbolic of the collective trauma experienced by the Khmer people during Cambodia’s wars, especially during the Khmer Rouge period. The artist’s family survived but the mental scars remain till today. Five sculptures – one for each member of his family – are spotted with the artists’ blood.
Than Sok (b. 1984, Takeo, Cambodia) investigates religious and spiritual beliefs, materials and rituals through sculpture, installation, video and performance. He has held solo exhibitions such as ‘Objects of Belief’ at The Insider Gallery (2015) and at Rosewood Gallery (2018), Phnom Penh; and been included in group exhibitions, including ‘Sights and Sounds: Global Video Art’ at The Jewish Museum in New York City (2013). He lives and works in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Images courtesy of the artist.