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Band leaves hotel a spaced-out gift

Screen prints that show Apsara dancers wielding laser guns and flying saucers hovering over Angkor Wat are part of a goodbye present to the Siem Reap art gallery Hotel 1961.

The prints were left behind by sixties nostalgia band The Cambodian Space Project, which has blasted off from Cambodia for a six-month world tour.

A set of six prints designed by the band are now hanging inside Hotel 1961, with 60 handmade copies of each available for $60 each, according to Cambodian Space Project guitarist Julien Poulson.

“The screen prints are designed like pop art posters. They’re fairly kitsch images, a little controversial as well. Some mutations of iconic Cambodian imagery are not appreciated by everyone here, and while things are changing rapidly this is still a conservative society, so Monty Python humour doesn’t necessarily sit well on local design styles and sensibilities.”

Poulson told 7Days that mock-ups of the six prints were designed by the band using Photoshop, during a rest break at the hotel earlier this year while the group put the finishing touches on their new album 2011: A Space Odyssey.

After the various images of astronauts touching down on the moon with Angkor Wat-shaped spaceships, and flying saucers chasing motorcycles were ready, printouts were handed over to Hotel 1961’s in-house printer Visal Heng, who stencilled them on canvas.

“Screen printing is a fairly simple process but there are so many variations to it. It’s one of the charming qualities of doing things by hand. They’re rough and ready and no two pieces are the same,” Poulson explained.

“I want this to be ongoing. There will be more designs we’ll work on during our tour and when I reach a full set I’ll be happy; maybe between 14 and 18 designs.  I want to distribute sets of those prints to galleries and music shops abroad.”

Before the band left on their world tour to promote 2011: A Space Odyssey, with stop-offs in East Timor, Bali, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, Europe, and eventually the US, Poulson told 7Days he hopes to combine work on the screen print series with working on the band’s next album, tentatively titled Hanuman Space Monkey, which he described as “a simple, childlike story about a clever monkey who develops space technology in a personal quest to be the first monkey on the moon.”

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