Breast Stupa Cookery is an ongoing, collaborative art project started in 2005 by Thai artist Pinaree Sanpitak. Presented in nine countries to date, the project explores how cooks interpret the artist’s signature form of breast stupas. Sanpitak describes this as “a concept of the sensual and the sacred.” Professional and amateur chefs create meals using or inspired by the artist’s specially designed breast stupa-shaped cooking molds, made in cast aluminum, glazed stoneware, glass, chocolate trays and cookie cutters. “Food becomes the art medium and connection,” Sanpitak explains.
Exhibiting nationally and internationally since 1986, Pinaree Sanpitak is one of Southeast Asia’s most widely known and respected living artists. She has explored the breast stupa form for over two decades, including in major museums and biennales in Asia, Australasia, Europe and the United States.
Breast Stupa Cookery: Prahok / Plaa Raa will involve a variety of dishes made using the fermented fish paste known in Khmer as prahok. A similar ingredient is known in Thai as plaa raa. Dishes will be specially prepared using Sanpitak’s breast stupa cooking molds in cast aluminum, by chefs from local restaurants as well as by amateur cooks. Guests become participants while enjoying these creations.
Sanpitak notes that prahok is integral to many favourite dishes in Khmer cuisine, including soups, stews and sauces. Prahok is widely enjoyed by Cambodians of all walks of life. Sanpitak explains that “to me, prahok stands out. Not just as a sauce or flavor but as a dish of its own.” She also notes that, with the filling of Boueng Kak and other lakes in Phnom Penh, the source of staple foods has been diminished.
Breast Stupa Cookery: Prahok / Plaa Raa is presented as part of Rates of Exchange, Un-Compared: Contemporary Art in Bangkok and Phnom Penh, a six month series of exhibitions, residencies, gatherings and symposia presented at numerous venues in Cambodia and Thailand and curated by Roger Nelson and Brian Curtin. The event serves as the official launch of the project, and will be attended by Pinaree Sanpitak, as well as by several other artists and curators visiting from Bangkok. As such, it provides a friendly and informal context for residents of Phnom Penh to meet and chat with these special guests from Thailand, including Orawan Arunrak, who will stay in Phnom Penh for six weeks undertaking a residency hosted by Sa Sa Art Projects.
Breast Stupa Cookery: Prahok / Plaa Raa will be video-documented by Phnom Penh-based Seng Simouy and Sok Chanrado, who are active in the nearby White Building community. The resulting film will be shown in group exhibitions that conclude the Rates of Exchange, Un-Compared: Contemporary Art in Bangkok and Phnom Penh project, at Bangkok’s H Gallery in December 2014 and Phnom Penh’s SA SA BASSAC in January 2015.