The Unofficial Archive

Paper & Water by Pao-Hui Kao

Paper & Water

Photo by Femke Rijerman

“One of the most painful things I know,” says Pao-Hui Kao, “is having to doubt what you’ve always deeply believed in.” Questioning your beliefs is difficult, but Kao has found it necessary and ultimately fruitful. Choosing paper as a metaphor to illustrate her conviction, Kao investigated what happens when you take a different approach to things you take for granted. Water is considered a danger to paper. However, when it absorbs water, the paper’s inner structure is reinforced. The water interferes with, and rearranges the flat net of paper fibres. It turns an ordinary piece of paper into a material with extraordinary capabilities and a unique aesthetic. Pao-Hui Kao wants us to reflect on the transformative power of this approach. If an old enemy – water – can transform a weak sheet of paper into a strong material, fit for construction, just think what could happen to us and our preconceived ideas…

Pao-Hui Kao