Kong Vollak at the SA SA BASSAC gallery.
Photo by: KONG VALLAK
The Our City arts fest officially launched yesterday, with a street party outside Java Café and gallery that kicks off 10 days of experimental exhibitions, interactive artwork and a broad symposium on the nature of urbanism in Phnom Penh.
Much like the city itself, this year the gala is much more concrete. For the first time in its four year run, festival director Dana Langlois enlisted two co-curators to help in the planning, as well as a designer to aid with promotion. The team hopes that this year will mark a turning point for the fest, transforming it from a popular annual show to a Phnom Penh fixture akin to international urbanism forums like the New Zealand Scape fest.
To join in the festivities, check out the Our City website or browse the guide below.
Mobile Gardens is a portable exhibition by artXprojects and Mina Bui Jones, where small carts filled with plants and flowers are schlepped around the city to spruce up the streets. The carts were wheeled out last night and now begin a 10 day tour of “quiet lanes and busy market places, famous monuments and new shopping strips – bringing a sense of transformation and joy, and prompting us to remember nature amidst the bustle of the city.”
Meas Sokhorn and Kong Vollak also launched Don’t Forget About Art yesterday night at Java, a photo exhibition of written statements displayed in a variety of urban settings. The gallery is fronted by a 9-metre graffiti display of the phrase “Don’t forget about art”, visible in the Java streetside window.
Australia’s Christian Thompson created Australian Graffiti, the third exhibition launched last night. A Bidjara man of the Kunja Nation in the central west of Queensland, Australia, Thompson’s exhibition uses performance art and photography to present a “playful, yet critical” view of urban and rural Australian iconography.
At 7:00pm, Meta House is screening From Chicago to Phnom Penh: Night of Revolt II, a compilation of shorts by Studio Revolt, a collaborative media lab run by Anida Yoeu Ali and Masahiro Sugano. The collection includes the debut of four new films shot in Cambodia, and the director, artists and cast will be available for a Q&A afterwards.
SATURDAY SEP 10
From 10:00am to 1:00pm at Psar Kandal, Our City artists will be snapping mid-jump pictures of members of the public. On Sunday at Psar Kandal, all the photographs from Saturday will be exhibited on two white pillars, before making their way to Meta House from September 30 to October 2.
Saturday night at Meta House is Urban X-Plosion: City Life in South East Asia, new short documentaries from Phnom Penh, Bangkok, Hanoi and Jakarta. The screening starts at 7:00pm, and each doco explores the consequences of rapid urbanisation, from health and the environment, to housing and infrastructure.
SUNDAY SEP 11
Architecture mavens will have a rare opportunity during the Open Doors tour, when several public and private buildings will be made accessible to the public. Buildings on the tour have been picked for their innovative design and multifunctional use, and a tuk tuk cab rank is available to take people from one building to the next, gratis.
At the Mith Samlanh Centre on Street 13 from 4:00pm to 8:00pm, Flea Market of Memories will give people the chance to trade on their storytelling abilities, swapping sentimental objects for their accompanying memories, rather than cash. Vendors will exchange items of personal value with the public and each other, regaling the procurers with the tales behind them. Barter for a jumper knitted in the pre-Pol Pot era, or a pen from an ex-boyfriend.
Sunday night at 7:00pm at Meta House is Fritz Lang’s classic 1927 sci-fi Metropolis, the German retro-futuristic dystopia about class struggle in a nightmarishly industrialised city.
MONDAY SEP 12
Artist Kong Vollak will host an Open Studio and Q+A in his workshop from 6:30pm to 7:30pm. The session provides a chance to pick his brain as well as check out his working environment.
WEDNESDAY SEP 14
From 5:00pm to 7:00pm, Lisa Mam, Peap Tarr and Theo Vallier will be painting live outside Chenla Theater. The artists are all part of the collective project Phnom Penh 2058, now showing at the French Cultural Centre.
SUNDAY SEP 18
The fest wraps up with The Lives of Giants, an original dance created by Sophiline Cheam Shapiro and performed by 20 members of the Khmer Arts Ensemble at the Khmer Arts Centre on Street 115, at 7:00pm. The dance explores cycles of violence and Cambodian mythology.
And capping this year’s Our City is the Urban Forum and Festival Closing Event, at Meta House from 6:00pm. Presentations and short movies will precede an open forum, giving everyone the chance to reflect on the festival and the future of the city. And perhaps in recognition of a hard 10 days of art appreciation, drinks and finger foods will be provided.