Sopheap Pich, whose work is among those featured in Trees of Life – Knowledge in Material, started working with natural materials, such as bamboo, rattan, burlap, beeswax, and earth pigments, in the early 2000s to create sculptural objects informed by themes of time, memory, and the body. This conversation with Ute Meta Bauer gives insight into his creative process and his long-term engagement with natural materials and local craftsmen.
Sopheap Pich (Cambodia) left Cambodia with his family as a refugee at the end of the Khmer Rouge’s reign, settling in the United States in 1984. Memories of his childhood and a desire to reconnect with his home country drew the artist back to Cambodia in 2002. Pich holds a BFA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (1995), and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1999). His work was presented at NTU CCA Singapore as part of Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative’s No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia (2014), curated by Dr June Yap. In 2013, Pich held a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, entitled Cambodian Rattan: The Sculptures of Sopheap Pich. Selected group exhibitions include the 57th Venice Biennale (2017); the Moscow Biennale (2013); Documenta 13, Kassel (2012); the Singapore Biennial (2011), among others.
Ute Meta Bauer (Germany/Singapore) is Founding Director, NTU CCA Singapore, and Professor, NTU ADM. She was formerly Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, United States, where she also served as Founding Director of the MIT Program in Art, Culture, and Technology. For more than three decades, Bauer has worked as curator of exhibitions and presentations, connecting contemporary art, film, video, and sound through transdisciplinary formats. She publishes regularly on artistic and curatorial practice. Bauer served as expedition leader of TBA21–Academy The Current 2015–17 exploring the Pacific Archipelago and littorals that are most impacted by climate change and human interventions in their environments.
Image credit: Sopheap Pich, Delta, 2007, rattan, wire, 478 x 341 x 70 cm. Courtesy the artist.