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Action-packed program for our city festival

A representative photo from the Disability Access series by the Jesuit Centre Siem Reap.​​ PHOTO SUPPLIED
A representative photo from the Disability Access series by the Jesuit Centre Siem Reap.​​ PHOTO SUPPLIED

Action-packed program for our city festival

Video projections on trees, a time lapse of Angkor Wat and a trio of performances in the circus big top at Phare are all part of the festivities from January 31 to February 2 at Our City Festival, coming for the first time to Siem Reap.

Friday January 31 marks the festival’s opening at 5.30pm at the Angkor Hospital for Children’s Visitor Centre’s Weaves of Cambodia shop, with a photographic exhibition that brings together the two themes of medicine and weaving.

“It’s a project initiated by Carol Cassidy and will involve four photographers: Kenro Izu, Yumiko Izo, John McDermott and Ellen Kaplowitz,” says Sasha Constable, who is co-curating Open City Siem Reap alongside artist Oun Savann. “It’s called Hands of Change, so they’re all shooting the hands, mainly focusing on weavers and doctors, which is a lovely concept.”

Artist and Our City Festival Siem Reap co-curator Oun Savann working on an Art-Bin, which will be brightly painted to attract passers-by.​
Artist and Our City Festival Siem Reap co-curator Oun Savann working on an Art-Bin, which will be brightly painted to attract passers-by.​ PHOTO SUPPLIED

Following the exhibition launch there will be a “main opening” at Park Hyatt Siem Reap from 7pm-9pm featuring four projects, including a video projection onto the large Banyan tree in the courtyard.

“We’ll have Olivia Bradley doing a video projection onto the tree, we have Soun Seney and a group of his artist friends in Siem Reap doing sculptures of trees titled Save Trees, Save Our City, and then we have Vincent Broustet and George Whelan doing collaboration with two large canvases focusing on street sweepers,” Constable says. “Life and Hope NGO are doing a display, an eclectic mix of fashions through the ages, focusing on contemporary Cambodian dress and going back to the 1960s.”

On Saturday Cambodian Living Arts will perform a shadow puppet show at Shinta Mani’s Made in Cambodia market, while Savann is running two projects including his Art Bins which have been created to draw people’s attention to them and reduce littering.

There are 19 projects in seven venues, ranging from installations to wall murals. Constable says the theme of Siem Reap the city has grown to encompass not only Angkor Wat, but also green issues and the impact of tourism.

A still from Laurent Dambies' Siem Reap in Motion time-lapse film.​​ LAURENT DAMBIES
A still from Laurent Dambies' Siem Reap in Motion time-lapse film.​​ LAURENT DAMBIES

“It’s been interesting because there’ve been a number of people focusing on the proximity of Siem Reap to Angkor,” she says, “and focusing on trees as well because as Savann was saying, as you move out of the city to Angkor it suddenly gets cooler, having those canopies. There’s also been a focus on the way tourism has impacted the city in relation to the spirituality of the temples, so we’ve got a few projects looking at that. The Nginn Karet Foundation for Cambodia will be doing a performance on that theme with the Sacred Dancers at Phare.”

The performance takes place at Phare at 2pm on Sunday, and includes works from three different troupes; Art and Rush by Phare, a contemporary dance recital called Into My Arms by New Cambodian Artists and Angkor Revisited by Nginn Karet Foundation.

Into My Arms is directed by Bob Ruijzendaal and the four young contemporary dancers who perform in it are classically trained. Phare is choreographing a new work, and the Nginn Karet Foundation is performing Angkor Revisited.

“That’s going to be great,” Constable says, “because you never get more than one company usually performing on one night, so it’s a great opportunity for people.”

A still from Anthony Gabelics' time-lapse film Mandala Sequence, which explores how tourism affects spirituality at the Angkor temples.​​ ANTHONY GABELICS
A still from Anthony Gabelics' time-lapse film Mandala Sequence, which explores how tourism affects spirituality at the Angkor temples.​​ ANTHONY GABELICS

Sunday evening sees the opening of Mandala Sequence, a video projection by Hungarian photographer Anthony Gabelics, at McDermott Gallery plus a photographic exhibition by Constable and Rafael Winer, followed by the closing exhibitions at FCC Angkor. These include a photo essay by the Jesuit Centre dealing with the subject of disability access in the city, and Siem Reap in Motion, a time lapse film by French artist Laurent Dambies.

“I think the time lapse videos are interesting because people are embracing new technology, rather than just having sculpture and painting,” Constable says. “That hasn’t really happened in Siem Reap yet.

“We’ve got performance, installation, sculpture, painting and photography so it’s a really nice mix.”

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