27 June 2016 voa
Anida Yoeu Ali with her Studio Revolt crew in production for The Buddhist Bug series. Here she stands in front of Java Cafe and Gallery in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 25, 2015. (Courtesy photo/Masahiro Sugano)
"To have contemporary arts by mainly Cambodian and Cambodian diaspora artists in a space like the National Museum, which is so historically significant, I think that it’s just huge,” said Anida Yoeu Ali.
An exhibition at the National Museum of Cambodia will over the next two months showcase the works of some of the country’s leading contemporary artists, work that is often shown abroad but that many Cambodians may not have seen.
The show, titled Histories of the Future, is curated by Dana Langlois, founding director of the Phnom Penh art space JavaArts, and will be on display from July 1 until August 31. It is a collaboration of the Ministry of Fine Arts, the National Museum and the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh
“Most of the work done in Cambodia is not seen by Cambodians, and that is the missing part that we need to think about.”
“I was actually quite excited to take on this project because, over the last 10-15 years, quite a lot of very good and interesting contemporary [Cambodian] artworks have been supported and exhibited in Australia,” Langlois, who has been working in the Cambodian art scene for the past 16 years, told VOA Khmer.
“I saw this as a really good opportunity to bring this work here in Cambodia to be showcased together in one exhibition.”
The exhibition will feature 17 artworks including video, photography, sculpture, prints and installations. It seeks to address the social, cultural and economic issues that Cambodia has experienced for decades and that have shaped modern Cambodia.
“I thought it was a really interesting opportunity also to think about the theme of what it means to place contemporary artworks next to the antique artworks [in the museum] and what that means today, and how we then can support the contemporary art scene,” explained Langlois.
One of the artworks is a short documentary film by a 29-year-old Kavich Neang. The documentary tells a story of a Cambodian family who fled the Khmer Rouge to find a better life in Australia.
A scene of Kavich Neang's documentary film 'Lim Vy' when Ms. Vy works at home preparing vegetables the day before she sells it at Sunday Market in Brisbane, Australia. (Courtesy photo/Kavich Neang)
“We want Cambodians to see all the work that we’ve done,” Neang said. “Most of the work done in Cambodia is not seen by Cambodians, and that is the missing part that we need to think about.”
Another of the works is The Buddhist Bug, a multimedia project by a Cambodian-American artist Anida Yoeu Ali that features an orange larvae-like creature-cum-outfit that is worn by the artist herself. It’s a work that touches on her heritage involving both Buddhism and Islam, she said.
“This exhibition at the National Museum, I think, is one of the most important exhibitions [in terms of] contemporary art in Cambodia,” said Ali.
Anida Yoeu Ali, The Old Cinema, 2014, HD Video, Color, 3min08sec. (Courtesy photo/Anida Yoeu Ali and InCube Arts)
“I feel this way because I’ve been there for the past six years, you know, really watching the contemporary art scene emerge and re-emerge out of very limited resources and very little government support.”
“And, so, to have contemporary arts by mainly Cambodian and Cambodian diaspora artists in a space like the National Museum, which is so historically significant, I think that it’s just huge.”