Courtesy FOST Gallery.
The name Sudarium comes from the Latin term for a sweat cloth used for wiping the face in Ancient Roman court ceremony. In the Christian tradition, such an item has evolved into a relic, an object and image of veneration, an apparition of the divine in human sweat.
The straw mat is like a symbolic hearth in Vietnamese society, the place around which the family gathers for daily meals, weddings, death anniversaries, naps. Upon it, day after day from repeated use, the sweat and the weight of the body is imprinted. This triptych is not only a representational image of a worn and battered straw mat, but rather it is like a physical fossil of its existence. Vietnamese natural lacquer (sơn ta) here becomes the ground onto which the history of the object is physically imprinted and graphically recorded. The texture of the mat at a distance looks like some lost ancient script. In her work, Phi Phi explores lacquer painting not only as a medium, but as a material signifier of the history ideological changes in Vietnam.