Art practice in Phnom Penh, community projects, Sa Sa Art Projects as Cambodia’s first artist run space.
Summary of the presentation:
June 13th 6:00 pm–
The Long March team arrived at Sa Sa Art Projects, Cambodia’s first and only artist-run space. Sa Sa was founded in 2009 by six artists who call themselves Stiev Selapak. The gallery organizes 5-6 exhibition per year for both Sa Sa artists and other young Cambodian artists. Its mission is to build dialogue between Cambodians to Cambodians, local to local. Currently on show is a photographic series The Building by artist Chhin Tainchhea (1984, Takeo). The black and white works focus on The Municipal Apartments, an iconic apartment bloc that was built in 1963 for government and school staff.
One of the Stiev Selapak members Rattana Vandy had participated in our Long March Education curatorial residency June 2009 in Beijing. Rattana is based between Paris and Phnom Penh, he is currently studying in Paris.
Lyno Vuth, manager and member of Sa Sa, presented several artist portfolios from Stiev Selapak; Ravuth Heng (1985, Phnom Penh) whose works focus on exploring the realms of self-portraiture; and Sokchanlina Lim (1987, Phnom Penh) negotiates between documentation and performance through the medium of photography. His work My Motorbike and Me (2006-ongoing) is a series of self-portraits in conversation with a motorbike. As Lina had explained, 2006 was one of critical year when Phnom Penh was going through economic difficulties, and the motorbike model depicted was the last versions for the local brand before the company closed. In one of the photographs, Lina is casually poised as a half-naked man holding a confessional card and standing in front of a stolen motorbike. The card states his fictional name and the date he was captured by the police. Lina explained that that date also corresponds to the date he had created the photograph.
On behalf of Leang Seckon, Fleur Smith presented Seckon’s Rubbish Project which features a fashion show of dress made of cans, waste paper and other rubbish materials found and re-used. Seckon is one of the most internationally visible Cambodian artists. Also part of the project, he created a huge installation of a hollow nylon sculpture floating in the holy water by the royal residences in Siem Reap.
Liu Wei presented a brief panorama of his work. Of particular was his Property of Liu Wei, a presentations of cement fragments stamped with the location, date, and ‘Property of Liu Wei.’ As the artist explains, the work was inspired by his daily reflection on the relationship between property and owner. As a resident of Beijing, a city with strong socialist memory, he does not feel he completely owns anything legally assigned to him. His car, his house, his studio feel more like public property that he is occupying temporarily.
Nguyen Nhu Huy presented his recent video work about Telling Lies. Actors and actresses practice crying while focusing their eyes upon a far away point. In the background Vietnamese songs for autocar advertisements play. The work touches upon the idea of rehearsing in acting, and the relationship between activator and reaction.
During discussion Davy Chou, a young cambodian-french filmmaker introduced his current research on the cambodian film and film industry during the 60-70s. During that time, civil war had resulted in the industry completely vanishing. The team was very interested in his research and In response, Wang Jianwei raised a question: Is filling the empty gap of history actually re-finding history, or are we pushing history farther away from us?
On the way back to the hotel, the Long March team discussed their own experiences as local artists connecting with international curators. They observe an ongoing trend of artists purposely satisfying the international imagination of ‘what is local’ by using convenient signifiers of local culture. These successful strategies to enter the international scene promote a dangerous and lazy communication between the local and international. How do you encourage a more constructive interrelationship between different communities?
Lyno Vuth (Sa Sa Art Projects), Leang Seckon (artist based in Phnom Penh), Fleur Smith (facilitator to Leang Seckon), Nguyen Nhu Huy (curator and artist based in Ho Chi Minh City), Liu Wei (artist based in Beijing), SokchanLina Lim (Sa Sa Art Projects co-founder), Davy Chou (French-Cambodian filmmaker), Tith Kanitha (artist based in Phnom Penh), Ravuth Heng (artist based in Phnom Penh), Faculty of Archeology, Royal University of Fine Art, Phnom Penh, Lu Jie (Chief Curator, Long March Project), Gao Shiming (Deputy Director, Contemporary Art Institute, China Academy of Arts), Wang Jianwei (Fellow, Contemporary Art Institute, China Art Academy), Dong Jun (Professor, New Media Department, Xian Academy of Arts), Zhang Hui (Professor, Stage Arts, Central Academy of Drama Theater), Weng Zhengqi (Candidate for Masters of Art History, China Academy of Arts), Xu Zhen (Founder, MadeIn Cultural Production Company, Shanghai), Lu Xinhua (Professor, European Study Center, Tongji University), Zheng Bo (Ph.D. researcher at University of Rochester), Wang Jiahao (Critic of Architecture, Research Fellow, China Academy of Arts), Du Keke (Translator for LEAP magazine), Sheryl Cheung (Long March Project crew member), Song Yi (Long March Project crew member), Jiang Yizhou (Long March Project crew member)