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Exhibition bridges the East-West arts divide

FIFTEEN Cambodian and international artists will come together today to present the National Museum’s latest art exhibition. Titled Diversity in Gender and the Arts: What a Difference a Difference Makes, the show seeks to explore the contrast in perspective between male and female artists and how each gender relates to the world.

A collaboration between See Gallery – a forum for cultural, economical and political collaboration based in Germany – and the National Museum, the show took just two months to come to fruition, with photographers, designers and artists all represented and each participant submitting one to two works.

Jana Heilmaier, the founder and president of See Gallery, said the show’s aim is one not often seen to be tackled here in Cambodia, but stresses it is an important one to address.

“This show will open a bridge between young Cambodian artists and more established artists who can guide them and give them tips on things like how to network effectively,” Heilmaier said.

The native German, whose husband is a diplomat at the German Embassy in Phnom Penh, said another level of meaning is added to the exhibition by observing the interaction between works created by artists from the East and those created by artists from the West.

“I think it’s very important for these artists to be able to look at things from various perspectives and for them to be exposed to a new market in Europe. Plus, the show will add something exciting to each of the artist’s CVs,” Heilmaier enthused.

Among those whose artworks feature in the exhibition is well-known Cambodian photographer Lim Sokchanlina. Self-taught and extremely driven, Lim Sokchanlina is part of the small creative collective Art Rebel who hold four to five exhibitions per year in the artist-founded Sa Sa Art Gallery on Sothearos Boulevard.

In his untitled work included in Diversity in Gender and the Arts, Lim Skchanlina’s 60x90cm photograph explores issues of sexual identity through a uniquely Cambodian framework. A young man, half his face made up with gaudy cosmetics and the other half left in its natural, masculine state, gazes blankly at the camera, challenging the audience’s perspectives on gender and how it can often be ambiguous, and the struggle many individuals must go though when exploring this side of themselves.

Other creative people to keep an eye out for at the show include Leang Seckon, Pich Sopheap, Marine Ky, Em Riem, Vuth Lyno, Eric Raisina, Thomas Pierre, Ponita Reasmey Keo Norodom, Carlota Dachao-Noveira, Anastasia Krol and Ali Sanderson.

Heilmaier said that in choosing the artists to be represented, she got a helping hand from two of here closest friends in Phnom Penh – Waterlily’s creative chief extraordinaire Christine Gaultier and Fleur Buorgeois. Heilmaier added that this was just the beginning of the outpouring of support for the initiative.

Many of the Kingdom’s most influential people have had a hand in the exhibition, too. The Minister for Women’s Affairs, Dr Ing Kantha Phavi, will deliver the opening speech at the exhibition, while Australia’s ambassador to Cambodia, Margaret Adamson, will moderate a panel discussion.

Once Diversity in Gender and the Arts: What a Difference a Difference Makes wraps up at the National Museum on June 8, the works will be packed up and shipped off to Berlin for the exhibition to take up residence in the city’s See Gallery.

Tonight’s exhibition opening, which kicks off at 5pm, will include dance performances, music and an art installation by Leoung Seckon.

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