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Man about town

Hirsute art show
A CANCELLED exhibition of artist Khvay Samnang’s art show titled Rebirths was itself reborn last night, albeit now titled Weddings and Hair.

A version of the exhibition, which launched last night at the Arts Lounge of HÔtel de la Paix and runs until March 3, was originally scheduled to open in early August last year, but was cancelled at the last minute because the artist was in Japan and the artwork was not ready.

The August show was to be a “tripartite concept exhibition”, showing a mix of human hair sculptures, wedding photos, and depictions of raging fires consuming entire buildings.

The new show is now simply a “dual exhibition” – the depictions of raging fires are no longer on the agenda, but the wedding photos and human hair sculptures remain. The hotel’s press release loftily claims these two elements, “create an eclectic yet unified insight into Cambodian social rituals and ideas of self-image”.

There is also a gimmick factor: the hair works have been created “turning leftover hair sourced from the roadside barbers of Phnom Penh into sculptures inspired by the beautifying rituals of Khmer women”.

But what is missing at this exhibition is the “wow” factor. Siem Reap arts launches are becoming increasingly same same, with apparently fashionable “contemporary” mixed media melanges which produce impermanent work often more suited for sale at trendy décor outlets than for show at galleries.

The work is, of course, contemporaneously clever, overtly politically correct, and draws murmurs of acceptance rather than gasps of astonishment or exclamations of awe.

New tourism centre
BANTEAY Kdie Temple, 10 kilometres out of Siem Reap city, will have a new tourism centre, thanks to a $67,414 donation from the Japanese government, according to the administrator of Sophia Asia Centre and planning coordinator Roeun Sophat.

Construction for the new Sophia Angkor for Heritage Education centre at Banteay Kdie began on January 2, and completion is scheduled for October.

Meanwhile, Siem Reap is to get one of three provincial university public information centres, thanks to largesse created through a joint Asian Development Bank-World Bank project.

The Public Information Centre in Siem Reap is at the Southeast Asia Univeristy. The other two centres are in Kampong Cham’s Western University and Preah Sihanouk’s University of Management and Economics.

Putu Kamayana, ADB country director, believes that the centres, which contain updated versions of books and access to internet resources, will stimulate the new generation to become interested in reading. He said: “Young people are starting to read more and more as books and the internet have the potential to open up a new world of knowledge for them.”

That can only be a good thing.

Finally, Siem Reap shares with Banteay Meanchey a 480,000-euro (US$621,000) handout from the European Union Awards.

Eight new human rights projects in Cambodia have been funded, and the  money earmarked for Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey will go to Legal Aid of Cambodia through its partner, Redd Barna (Save the Children Norway). The money is for a three-year project to help develop a child-friendly justice process and to strengthen children’s rights through law.

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