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

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Phnom Penh underpass opens to ease traffic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced a temporary opening of the 488m underpass at the Chaom Chao roundabout in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, which was recently completed to connect traffic from National Road 4 to Russian Federation Blvd. The move is to reduce

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from