Is it a deli that also sells art? Or an art gallery that sells deli items? Or is the entire building housing Siem Reap’s newest allegedly mercantile venture, ArtDeli, an art installation in itself?
The answer is none of the above and all of the above, and whatever it is, it will officially open for trade, or for viewing, or whatever, on April 3.
Officially, the shop, the newest addition to Siem Reap’s hip and happening Alley West parallel to Pub Street, has been described by the proprietors as “a pop-up deli in a 1927 French colonial structure in an alley”.
The co-proprietor is one of Siem Reap’s foremost graphic artists, the offbeat Loven Ramos, and he says the concept is to regard the building as an art installation in itself. Nothing in the bare, stripped-down building is fixed or permanent and can be altered on an artistic whim, and many of the fixtures that have been installed were found while rummaging at the municipal garbage dump and therefore have no value or permanence.
But apart from being an art installation, the enterprise will have a utilitarian purpose, functioning as a deli shop that sells deli items packaged as art, and an art gallery that that sells art packaged as deli items.
“We will exhibit some art as though it were a grocery item in a deli,” says Loven.
“Here the relationship between the artists and the buyers is simplified,” he adds.
But some works will also be sold simply as art, as long they are small and priced under $500.
Prospective artists can also go to ArtDeli to make art – empty canvasses and tubes of paint will be on hand for on-the-spot inspired daubing.
For starving artists, ArtDeli will also have a café function, serving food cooked in the nearby Café Sammaki that opened above the Circle store last month and is owned by Jam, who is also the co-proprietor of ArtDeli.
At time of publishing, ArtDeli was still a work in progress, but whatever it turns out to be on Saturday, it’s certain to be unique.