Location: Tonli Bati, Cambodia (Seametrey Children’s Village)
Materials: Wetlands plants, bamboo, recycled plastic water bottles, natural fibers
A coalition of Khmer and Western human organisms built an ecosystem, an artificial island designed to clean water and provide wetland habitat in Cambodia. What was there to work with, in this rural village? We used the most plentiful materials at hand: emptied plastic water bottles, bamboo, coconut coir, and a sticky clay mud, to form the traditional Khmer design of chan flower.
As form came to float, we planted with water-cleansing wetlands plants, botanically known as emergent species. Roots and rhizomes of these sedges and pickerels will develop into an underwater thicket, perfect habitat for a microbial sludge that will consume pollutants. The tiniest will soon be eaten by the larger; fish and amphibians will bring forth new young in the shady, nutrient dense homeland.
The emergence of this artificial territory parallels the emerging minds of the rural children at Seametry Montessori Children’s Village south of Phnom Penh. You Muoy, founder and headmistress, sponsored this artist residency with three goals: to teach children to recycle plastic bottles (in a country where potable tap water is never available); to teach the children about the plant cycles that clean the water; and to initiate the cleaning of these construction drainage ponds.
Rhizomatic reciprocity, in the most littoral of senses.