How will the festival be different this year?
Dana Langlois, festival director:
Now we’re in the fourth year, we’ve really developed the festival on a larger scale...In the years past it had a loose communication amongst the arts and architectural organisations, which I coordinated. This year, based on the input of everyone that’s been involved, we decided we wanted to build something more concrete, build a format to really establish it.
The theme, ‘In between places’:
Natalie Pace, co-curator:
What we’re working towards is taking art out of the institutions. That’s not to say there isn’t involvement from the institutions, but the idea is to engage a broader local audience and thereby take the events to the people...With the idea of being ‘in between’, we kept coming back to this idea of the festival being like a pause, for people to stop, think, reflect in this time of change, in this time of not being one thing or another.
Dana: In this year’s program there’s a lot of mobility – we’re moving it around the city so that you can have a lot more accessibility with the public. We’re breaking away from traditions of how art is presented.
On Phnom Penh urbanism:
Dana: There’ve been huge changes over the past few years. That’s one of the things that prompted me to start this festival in the first place. The people in the city have been adapting to it, and moving and changing. My question was ‘How?’ The festival has been established as a platform for building that dialogue. The changes over the last four years…obviously there’s been huge amounts of development and construction, and the concept of what the city will become has changed quite a bit. There’s a lot of effort put into the question ‘What will Phnom Penh be in the future?’ It’s all about where we’re heading.
A lot of our focus is on celebration as well. It’s also about the heritage, the history, the culture, and emphasising that, preserving that and maintaining that beauty so it can be carried on to future generations.
On the impact of the festival:
Dana: It has encouraged and inspired artists to focus more on these issues in their work. I’ve seen a huge amount of change within the visual arts, how many of them are dealing with these issues.
On the exhibition Flea Market:
Dana: The flea market is a metaphor, a non-monetary system where people are exchanging narratives and experiences through objects. So instead of making an exchange for monetary purposes, it’s an exchange of memories. The idea is about connecting people, building common narratives.
On Mobile Gardens:
Dana: I’m quite excited about the mobile gardens. They’re going to move around the city, and I’m excited to see how people react to them. Especially this strange contrast of a cart, which is normally collecting garbage, but instead is bringing gardens around the city.
Natalie: It’s an experiment, and there is going to be an element of absurdity to it, which I quite like. It will be interesting to see how people respond to this idea. I don’t want to pre-empt anybody’s response at all. We have our own perceptions of what it might mean, but what it means to others is completely unknown.
Who’s actually carting the mobile gardens around?
Dana: (laughs) This is something we’re working on.
Natalie: That’s also an experiment.