Vong Phaonphanit and Claire Oboussier

Vong Phaophanit and Claire Oboussier

 

Biography

 

Vong Phaophanit (b.1961 Laos) and Claire Oboussier  (b.1963 London) have worked collaboratively for over 25 years alongside their respective studio practices. Their collective work, encompassing large-scale installations and sculptural works, films, books, and socially engaged public commissions, explores issues of language, memory, deterritorialisation and forms of meaning-making that exceed national, cultural and social borders.  In 1993 Phaophanit was nominated for the Turner Prize and was invited to take part in the Venice Biennale in the same year.  In 1994 was awarded the DAAD fellowship in Berlin where the duo subsequently relocated. During their time in Berlin, Phaophanit and Oboussier produced ‘Atopia’ (Berliner Künstlerprogramm DAAD, 2003) in response to the transitioning cultural, political and physical landscape of the city. In 2004 they created the video work ‘All that’s solid melts into air (Karl Marx)’ (collection of the TATE), part of ‘The Quiet in the Land’, a pioneering transnational arts project in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR. The work explores the precariousness of language and memory and the role they have in constructing both national and personal identities and engages with the “instability and ephemerality of meaning, it’s fluctuation across time and languages” *

 

Phaophanit and Oboussier have produced a number of groundbreaking public commissions including ‘Outhouse’ (2004) for Liverpool Housing Action Trust, a sculptural glass ‘abode’ sited within a public park for the collective use of local residents.  In 2008 they were selected for the Channel 4 Big Art Project for which they proposed ‘Northern Light’ – a suspended architectural work for North Belfast, ‘a ‘third space’ beyond polarised territories’, again conceived for the collective use of local communities. Other key works in public space include neon installations such as ‘Topography of Dreams’ (2007), Curzon Street Station, Birmingham, ‘Light Curtain’ for Hull Truck Theatre (2009),  ‘Light of Day’ (2010) for the Neo-Natal Baby Unit at St Georges Hospital in London and ‘Coronium’ (2011) for Kilden, the New Performing Arts Centre in Kristiansand, Norway. In 2012, as part of the cultural Olympiad, they were commissioned to make ‘Light Veils’, a permanent laser installation for Weymouth Seafront and a legacy work for the town.

 

Phaophanit and Oboussier completed ‘Mute Meadow’ in 2011 on the banks of the River Foyle in Derry~Londonderry, Northern Ireland - a major socially engaged public work commissioned as part of the ‘post-conflict’ re-imagining of the city. In 2015 they installed ‘Dream House’, a public sculpture commission for downtown Toronto that explores diasporic notions of home and belonging. Their most recent project ‘IT IS AS IF’ (2015), is an immersive video installation produced at Block 336 in Brixton. Funded by the Wellcome Trust, this work is an experimental collaboration between the artists and surgeon Professor Roger Kneebone (Imperial College, London), investigating the unspoken languages of medical surgery and extending their commitment to engaged practice, inter-diciplinary dialogue and their interest in non-narrative, trans-cultural forms of meaning.

 

In addition to their work within the public realm Phaophanit and Oboussier have exhibited at venues such as Tate Britain, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, National Gallery of Canada, Ottowa, IMMA, Dublin, Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid, Iziko National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa, the Shanghai Biennale, International Short Film Festival Oberhausen and Void Gallery, Derry~Londonderry.

 

 

*(Tate Gallery exhibition text, 2008) 

 

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