Spoon (1.465 kg), 2019
Lead and tin melted from unexploded ordnance of war
33 x 33 cm
THE SPOON PROJECT
Laos is one of the most heavily bombed areas in the world. Today, a quarter of the Xieng Khouang Province, where Napia Village is located, is contaminated with thousands of unexplo- ded bombs dropped by US forces during the Secret War in Laos, something that represents a constant threat to the safety of local citizens.
Between 1964 and 1973, over 250 million cluster bombs landed in Laos, thrity percent of which never detonated. Hearing that locals were collecting and melting down these bombs to make spoons to sell to tourists, Pratchaya Phinthong visited Napia.
Moved by the villagers’ transformation of deadly weapons into a tool of nourishment, the artist asked them to collaborate on new products for international trade. For Spoon, he asked one of the men to pour a freeform circle that accentuates its once liquid state.This is paired with a postcard from the inau- gural cotton crop of land recently cleared of bombs, which he posted to a curator from Laos.
In the words of the artist, “I visited Ban Napia (Napia Village) and spoke with famillies that live alongside an area in which landmines and cluster bombs are recovered by the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and local villagers melt down the munitions to produce spoons and other trinkets to sell. It is mostly women who coordinate and extract UDXOs (Unexploded Ordonances), trying to clear the bombs from under the earth’s surface before the children accidentally come across them. During my walk around the Plain of Jars area, I met a MAG team who has just come back from work.They told me they were able to remove and disarm 400 kg (880 pounds) of munitions that day. I was walking up a hill where I found a bomb crater, but was told not to go further because MAG had not yet marked the zone and the area was still unsafe.
The Spoon project is an organic system in which products are made within the context of place, content, and ressources.
I think this is a place where ideas can contribute to productivity by reevaluating what can be recovered from the past to improve contemporary lives.There are two components to the project.