Work’s title: Sanctuary I

Duration: 4:52 min

Media: Animation

Materials: Projector




Sanctuary I


Sanctuary I is the first work of the 'Sanctuary' series and was created during the time that the Coronavirus spread worldwide. During the time of COVID-19, the artist was flying back from the UK to China and the first stop of the journey was the capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. The artist spent two days in Phnom Penh and after she returned to China, during her 14-day quarantine, she completed this animation artwork.

Sanctuary I is an animation-based installation artwork. This work has a short animation video working in a simulation theater. The animation work concerns the artist’s journey back to China, especially focusing on the two days in Phnom Penh (capital city of Cambodia). The animation starts with an old Walkman stereo; a hand pushes the button and the whole animation starts. With a quiet piece of music, a view of a bedroom is shown to the audience. After the screens of the bedroom, the journey starts.

Phnom Penh is the capital and most populous city in Cambodia. It has been the national capital since the French colonization of Cambodia and has grown to become the nation's economic, industrial, and cultural center. Once known as the "Pearl of Asia," it was considered one of the loveliest French-built cities in Indochina in the 1920s. There are a number of surviving French colonial buildings scattered along its grand boulevards. On the banks of the Tonlé Sap, Mekong, and Bassac Rivers, Phnom Penh is home to more than 2 million people, approximately 14% of the Cambodian population.

To the sound of drumming, colonial-style buildings and local Buddhist temples are presented in a transformed form in the subsequent animations.

In Phnom Penh, architectural styles influenced by different cultural periods are preserved, from the old kingdom to the colonial period to communism to modern urban style. Nowadays, people in Cambodia live relatively simple lives.

As a nation with a long history, Cambodia is very deeply influenced by religion. Theravada Buddhism is the official religion of Cambodia and is practiced by more than 95 percent of the population with an estimated 4,392 monastery temples throughout the country. Cambodian Buddhism is deeply influenced by Hinduism and native animism. Mahayana Buddhism is the religion of the majority of the Chinese and Vietnamese living in Cambodia. Elements of other religious practices, such as the veneration of folk heroes and ancestors, Confucianism, and Taoism mix with Chinese Buddhism and are also practiced.

At the end of the animation, the rumdul flower, is presented. The rumdul flower is present in almost all the streets of Cambodia and indeed is Cambodia’s national flower. It has pale yellow petals, plump shape, with 3 wings spread wings facing 3, the alternating uniform wings. It symbolizes vitality and new hope. Rumdul has a rustic beauty, and has casual, not eye-catching colors. It is like a flower that attracts others but without any particular magic power.

In Phnom Penh, people can see the mixed culture style and traces of changes down through the years and this contains the original vitality. After a long flight, the atmosphere here gave the artist a sense of redemption.

This animation work is designed to play in a small simulated theater. However, because of the coronavirus, people are unable to visit the gallery or the art institute, and the artist started to look for ways to solve this problem. Even though people cannot go outside, they can still use the internet. Therefore, a lot of galleries and art institutes have started to use online platforms to show their pieces. This is a good way for artists to continue their work, though there may be some problems. The simulated theater is trying to create an instant immersive experience for the audience.


Sanctuary I is also part of the online group show ‘5*Eyes’. 

Poster