Sopheap Pich

I'm not sure why the big bamboo assemblage that is Compound has been shoved to the wall in its atrium gallery. When first deployed by Cambodian-born artist Sopheap Pich at the Singapore Biennial earlier this year, it was presented in the round, so you view it from all sides. In its new configuration, overseen by the artist last month, the modular, crab trap-like cages have been stacked into a vaguely urban form—suggesting a city's towers, though empty within its lattice. There's the appearance of density but no mass, as if a building had been removed from beneath exterior scaffolding left in place. Pich, trained in the U.S. but now living in his homeland, leads a compound existence combing two cultures; and his installation also has a hybrid aspect—skyscraper meets basketry, if you will. There's a collision between old and new that Pich pointedly documents in a series of photos facing Compound. Study their dates carefully, and you'll see that an entire lake has been filled in—by truck, barge, and sand pump—to provide more buildable land for booming Phnom Penh. The bamboo and rattan used in Compound are indigenous materials, green and sustainable, but they have no use in a modern skyscraper. And yet Pich can reassemble the work elsewhere, in a new museum setting, and it may ultimately outlast Boeung Kak Lake and the fishing communities that once thrived there. BRIAN MILLER

Thu., Nov. 10, 7-10 p.m.; Thursdays, Fridays, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Starts: Nov. 10. Continues through April 1, 2011

 
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