Steven Somner had an accident in Italy when he was cycling, he lost a leg and he learned to use mirror therapy in order to cure his phantom limb syndrome, which is an extremely painful neurologic condition. This treatment helped Steven to get over the pain, and so he flew to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, where there are constantly new amputees resulting from 50-year-old-bombs being detonated today all over the Laotian rain forest.
Steven travels with these mirrors of similar measurements to the sculptures I’ve made. He goes around training people who have lost their limbs to cope with this pain. When I found this story, I didn’t rush to contact him, I let it sit for months because I knew this would be the final form of my project.
Final for me is when all these ideas can land, and I was longing for this landing when the story of Steve Somner and my mirror project found each other. On his website he asks for donations so he can continue helping people. And I thought this is a good correlation. I contacted him.
That is how the work took shape, this is what is behind a pair of mirrors that are somehow dialoguing in the space.
The work is not about just finding a good idea, but about planting that idea back. It all starts from a spoon, from a really meaningful object you use to take food to your mouth, to feed yourself, and from there it goes around. My art practice is about bridging those broken paths.
I remember this snake from a monastery, a temple in my hometown. There are beautiful sculptures made by monks for the temple, and this is a temple of my family basically. My father’s ashes are there, my grandmother’s, my grandfather’s, everybody, and I’m going to be there too. This snake was here too. And I once asked if I could have it, so I’ve had it for years, and I’ve thought why did I want this snake?
Until friends of friends came and told me that snakes live in the dunes, and that made me realize that for me the importance of the snake is not the snake itself, but the feeling of the snake you see imprinted in the dunes. And that is what’s behind the idea of mirroring the difference, which is something you are always making in your mind. There is no snake here, it’s something you are making.
- Pratchaya Phinthong, 2022