Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Exhibit grapples with question of Phnom Penh’s identity



Exhibit grapples with question of Phnom Penh’s identity

A layered photograph by Miguel Jeronimo of the casino Naga 2, a symbol of opulence, over a Cambodian woman. Photo supplied
A layered photograph by Miguel Jeronimo of the casino Naga 2, a symbol of opulence, over a Cambodian woman. Photo supplied

Exhibit grapples with question of Phnom Penh’s identity

For one group of artists, the rapidly changing face of Phnom Penh raises the question: what is this city’s identity? Their multidisciplinary exhibition Identicity, curated by Portuguese photographer Miguel Jerónimo, seeks to adress that question.

“The whole idea of the exhibition is talking about how the urban landscape of the city shapes the identity of the people that live there,” Jerónimo said.

To that end, he has compiled illustrations by artist Lolli Park; a portrait project by Syahrulfikri Salleh; audio recordings by Bernadette Vincent; photos and a video installation from the White Building Collective’s “Humans of Phnom Penh” project; sculpture by Eng Rithchandaneth; papercut works by Lauren Iida; and paintings by Rena Chheang. The opening on Sunday at Meta House will also feature a screening of the short film Cambodia 2099 by director Davy Chou.

“Having half Cambodian, half expat artists is a way to have a more diverse dialogue,” says Jerónimo, who in addition to curating is also exhibiting some of his photographs, which layer images to highlight the contrast between Phnom Penh’s glitzy and rapid urban development and the city’s poorer inhabitants making a living on the street.

“People from the rural areas come to live in the city. What is their experience with the urban habitat, and changing life?” he says, explaining the themes of the exhibition.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
One of portraits on display by Syahrulfikri Salleh, who depicts people he meets around the city in brief encounters. Photo supplied

Much of the work focuses on the physical structure of the city, such as Rithchandaneth’s sculptures of mushrooms, which are meant to symbolise urban development. Other pieces focus on the people, such as Salleh’s portraits, made as part of a “social practice” in which the artist drew somebody he interacted with on the street but otherwise had no relation with – like a street noodle vendor. Salleh then gifted a copy of the portrait to the person in an attempt to “break the isolation” the city can create.

Painter Rena Chheang, meanwhile, drew from her experience at a nonprofit working with street children for her seven paintings – representations of emotional states conveyed by dripping streaks of paint over bisected busts.

“The dripping gives it a depressive vibe to it,” she explains.

Jerónimo’s concept for the show began as just a collaboration between him and Chheang, but the pair decided that it would be more interesting to incorporate a range of voices and, on opening night, have a participatory dialogue from 7pm.

“The idea is to use the exhibition as a trigger: OK, what’s life in Phnom Penh? How is it shaping the relationship of people? . . . How is Phnom Penh shaping our existence in the city?”

Indenticity opens on Sunday at 5pm at Meta House, #34 Sothearos Boulevard with the screening of Cambodia 2099 scheduled for 7pm. Support came from the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Foundation.

MOST VIEWED

  • WHO: Covid in Cambodia goes into new phase

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia said that Cambodia has reached a new phase of the pandemic with “decreasing case numbers, high vaccination coverage and a more transmissible circulating variant threatening a hidden surge”. In a press release on September 6, the WHO said that

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • International air visitor arrivals dip 93%

    The number of foreign tourists entering Cambodia through the Kingdom’s three international airports witnessed a sharp 92.5 per cent year-on-year decline in the first seven months of this year, according to the Ministry of Tourism. The airports handled 51,729 international tourists in the January-July period versus

  • School reopening ‘offers model for other sectors’

    World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Cambodia Li Ailan said school reopening process should be used as a role model for reopening other sectors currently mothballed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Li strongly supports the government’s decision to reopen schools, saying it is a decision

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in

  • Is Cambodia’s microfinance sector running its course?

    Economic growth and the strength of the banking system might have prompted a slow decline of the microfinance segment that has been raising a population ‘The MFI business model is over,” opined David Van, a Cambodian investment expert, recently. He felt that in a couple