Now in it’s fourth year, the Our City Festival is a 10-day celebration of art, music and urban design centred around the topic of what it’s like to live and work in modern Phnom Penh. Photo by: TOUCH YIN VANNITH
PHOTOGRAPHS and short videos by Australian artist Christian Thompson are now on display at Java Café and Gallery as part of an exhibition to promote the Our City festival
Kate O’Hara, curator of Thompson’s exhibition and a co-organiser of Our City, said she arranged to have five photographs and three short films by the artist exhibited at the festival’s launch party last Thursday attended by the Australian ambassador to Cambodia, Penny Richards.
Titled Australian Graffiti, the photographs show subjects wearing flowers in their hair and dressed in unusual clothes and were displayed alongside several paintings by artists Meas Sokhorn and Kong Vollak at the gallery.
“I see Christian’s works as dealing with cultural identity between his life living in the city and his life from the rural area. It’s relevant to his culture of indigenous people,” Kate told the Post.
According to Kate, Christian moved from his hometown in rural Queensland to the Brisbane as a child, but never forgot his identity as an indigenous Australian which he continues to express through his art.
“I hope people will think a little bit about why Christian wears flowers on his head, why he stresses that and why in each photograph the subject has a different expression and different style,” she said.
Thompson himself was not able to be at the launch of his exhibition, Kate explained, as he is currently studying for a doctorate of philosophy at Oxford University in the UK.
Kate told the Post she brought Christian’s works to show in Phnom Penh because many of the themes in his photographs are similar to work by Khmer artists looking at life in modern Cambodia.
“Many Cambodian people come from the rural area to live in Phnom Penh, working in the garment factories to support their family. So people probably have problem with the way they have to adjust their appearance. They either keep their own traditional clothes or they have to change them,” Kate said.
“I’m interested to know whether those people feel themselves as the country or city people and how they can identify themselves. I hope that people may take from Christian’s works to choose their own identity. Christian tells to choose for yourself.”
Australian Graffiti is showing at Java Café and Gallery on 56 Sihanouk Boulevard as part of the Our City Festival until September 15.