Siem Reap Scene: 21 May 2009

Siem Reap Scene: 21 May 2009

Content image - Phnom Penh Post


A new exhibition, "Present Tense", will launch on Saturday night at Hotel de la Paix's art gallery and will feature the work of young emerging Cambodian artists from Krousar Selapak, or "Artists Family".

This is a group of young Cambodian artists who are graduates of the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh.

In 2003-2004 Sasha Constable worked with the artists on the Peace Art Project Cambodia, turning decommissioned weaponry into sculpture as expressions of peace.

Hotel de la Paix exhibited some of the sculptures in 2006, and sales of these sculptures funded the Krousar Selapak workshop.

The new La Paix exhibition, co-curated by Don Protasio and Constable, will serve as a Siem Reap introduction to these emerging young Cambodian artists.

"There is no general theme to the showing, except that we want to present new artists who are working now, hence the name Present Tense," Protasio said.

The group show will feature paintings, sculpture and mixed media, including sculptural furniture.

The exhibition will run through June to the end of July.


Content image - Phnom Penh Post

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Artist's rendition of the proposed new shopping centre.

Plans are under way to revamp the souvenir stands on the riverside near the west end of the Old Market. Project manager Meas Sarom, who owns 30 booths in the 700-metre area, told Scene he had secured permission from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction to scrap the run-down wooden buildings and rehouse the stalls in a large new shopping complex.

The construction date has tentatively been scheduled for September 1, but Sarom is keeping plans flexible.


Six classical musicians and ballerinas from Prague will perform this Sunday night at a 10th-century temple as part of the Gala de Bienfaisance charity concert, before going to Phnom Penh to perform in front of the King on May 29.

Cost-conscious classical arts devotees will be pleased to know that at US$15, the gala is US$10 cheaper in temple town, due to the lack of Royal audience.

The performers are from Sabongui Productions, a private organisation that promotes Czech arts internationally. The concert starts at 7pm at Prasat Kravan temple near Angkor Thom, with proceeds going to the Social and Cultural Works of His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni.


Siem Reap's River Garden Guesthouse, formerly the home and studio of renowned French painter Michel Delacroix, is expanding, having taken over the Bunalong karaoke lounge that operated next door.

Owner-manager Deborah Saunders said that in phase 1, part of the former karaoke building will be converted into five new rooms for the guesthouse, adding to the 11 that already exist. This is scheduled for completion in August.

Saunders if also relieved that the move has rid the guesthouse of bothersome neighbours.

"It was nice to rent the promises just to get rid of the unfortunate activity that was there," she said.  "The karaoke itself was not a problem, but all the other activities were. It was dreadful."

River Garden has taken quick advantage of its new ambience, declaring itself to be "child friendly", and building a playground with river frontage.


Battambang's famous Phare Ponleu Selpak circus school wants to establish a branch in Siem Reap, but finding a suitable venue is difficult.

Rasmei Pech, manager of the French Cultural Centre in Siem Reap, said, "If they found a place they would come".

She spoke to Scene last week during a visit by Phare Ponleu Selpak circus trainer Saat Sam Ang to teach local children at the French Cultural Centre about the Cambodian and French heritage of the Battambang-based Phare Ponleu Selpak circus school.

She said that while the circus is heavily influenced by French culture, a lot of the tricks have their roots in Khmer tradition.

"Tightrope walking started in Cambodia when fruit pickers strung up lines between trees, so they didn't have to keep climbing up and down," she said. "The animals are trained for the circus in the same way they used to be trained for hunting."

The Phare Ponleu Selpak school was started in a refugee camp on the Thai border by a Frenchwoman in 1986 and has strong links with the French Cultural Centre.


Rain has come early this year, which is why the Ella Wine and Jazz Bar is hosting a dance party this Saturday night called Summer Rain.

Co-owner of the wine bar, the aptly named Rafael Winer, said there's a lack of good venues in Siem Reap providing danceable music in a cool environment, and he hopes Ella can fill the gap.

DJ Milo and a couple of guest DJs are booked to manage the tunes and low-priced drinks are on offer: beer at $1.50, cocktails $2.50.

Winer, a Canadian who was a stills photographer in the movie industry in Los Angeles and New York for 10 years, said if the night proves successful, it will become a regular addition to Siem Reap's nightlife.

Ella opened on December 29 last year. 


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