For most people, the life of an artist is not an easy one. But for 21-year-old Yean Reaksmey, that assumption is far from the truth.
I was lucky enough to spend two hours with Yean Reaksmey, the founder of the Trotchaek Pneik Association. The association gathers all sorts of performance actors to research art and cultural heritage in Cambodia.
Yean Reaksmey, who dons a distracting head of black curly hair, is an artist with some very strikingly unique characteristics.
According to Yean Reaksmey, performance art is a kind of art that all types of people can perform or use to show their talents in a constructive and creative way.
“There is nothing like letting the audience use their own critical thinking skills after watching my show,” he said.
At the Angkor art Expo, in Siem Reap, Yean Reaksmey said he surprised the audience by showing up half-naked and letting others paint on him.
He also let people pour gasoline and other flammable liquids onto his body and set himself on fire.
He recalled that “it really hurt, but I just wanted to show the audience how badly people can suffer when they are criticised by others”.
“It hurts when people speak badly of each other,” he said.
Yean Reaksmey was happy that he could show people what pain looks like, but also admits that he was suffering for days after the performance.
Being an artist is not a temporary job. Yean Reaksmey is now researching and analysing different types of Cambodian art. He doesn’t have an office, but he says he can work anywhere as long as he has Internet access.
“I’ve e-mailed all types of artists in Cambodia since I began the project,” he said.
Yean Reaksmey believes that Cambodian art can do more than heal the country emotionally. He advises that art is the key to the country’s development in the sectors of culture and sustainable development.
Yean Reaksmey’s next exhibition will be called “Freedom,” a show that will be about daily life in Cambodia. The exhibition will consist of both painted works and performance art.