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A Tale of Rice (Yellow, Red and Blue)

Installation with lantern, Rice, Stone, Bronze bell, light, Size Variable, 2016

Rice is a basic need. We eat it everyday. Before we cook it, we clean it, removing stones, filtering away the dust and dirt. If we compare these pieces of stone and earth to larger issues plaguing our society we could say something like this: if the stone is large, everyone can see it, and we can easily find it and remove it from society (the rice). If there are many stones, and they are small, they will be more difficult to find, and can create more disagreements as to whether they can be removed or not.


What colors these experiences are the three most basic, primary colors: yellow, red and blue. Yellow is the color we associate with strength and power. It is the sun, it is gold, it is wealth and happiness. Our land is the Golden Land, and we are proud, sometimes Nationalist. We want more from our nation, from our resources, and we demand it. Red is the color of passion and anger. We are confident in our fury and we work to satisfy it with violence and protest. Blue is the calm of the sky and the ocean, the blur of the morning mist. It clouds our judgement, confuses us, and dulls our senses.

The bell was an ancient symbol for royalty. Its sounds were used to call worshipers to prayer and announce the arrival of a King. It consolidates these emotions of greed, anger, and confusion into one powerful symbol. In Burmese, we say “lo ba, daw tha, mor ha”. It means “to want, to anger, to confuse”. Our society is struggling to find the right way forward, the proper way to filter the rice so that we can all eat together at the same table. We must not be quick to judge the value of each person’s colors or emotions, we must focus on the rice, the basic need which we all have to eat.

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