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Untitled 1995-99 1995-99
Neon tubes, transformers
590 x 50 x 590cm
Collection: The artist, courtesy Stephen Friedman Gallery, UK

In Vong Phaophanit’s Untitled 1995-99 fragments of Laotian script emerge at intervals from lengths of neon tubing. The work engages with language by subverting its function as a means of communication. By focusing on the physical qualities of the script, rather than the words’ inherent meanings, Phaophanit sets up a play between the audience and the work which highlights our intuitive urge to understand what the words ‘mean’ and explores our reactions when meaning cannot be grasped. Instead of offering viewers any narrative hints to suggest an interpretation of the work, Phaophanit immerses them in a sensuous experience of language. In the APT3 publication, Claire Oboussier observes that in Phaophanit’s work, ‘The words themselves are sculptural, fashioned in a way that reasserts their physical contours. ... The word is no longer flattened and flattening, but tangible and enlivening.’


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