Siem Reap Scene...

Siem Reap Scene...




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Khchao Touch at Living Nature.

One of Cambodia's leading women artists, Khchao Touch, made her Hotel de la Paix's Arts Lounge debut with an unusual brunch launch on Sunday.

Her exhibition, "Living Nature", features a delightful series of vivid and swirling watercolours and is a pleasant departure from the "darker" paintings that seemed to be the mode last year for many Cambodian artists.

Her new paintings seem to be appreciated because the first red-dot sold sticker went up within minutes of the brunch exhibition opening.

Touch is well-known in Siem Reap, having been born in neighbouring Battambang, and one of a clutch of leading Cambodian artists who graduated from Battambang's art school of Phare Ponleu Selpak, an NGO that also trains circus performers.

Her first Siem Reap exhibition last September was at the French Cultural Centre and featured sculptures made from paper, some of it from rubbish picked from the streets to help spread the message of keeping the environment clean.

Her first overseas trip was to France for an exhibition in Bordeaux of what she calls "dreaming painting".  

While on the subject of the French Cultural Centre, in last Thursday's art report in Scene the centre's manager Rasmei Pech was quoted as saying that an exhibition that opened at the Centre last week was the first time artists from Phare Ponleu Selpak had exhibited there.

This was a translation mistake, and what Rasmei Pech actually said was that this is the first time this year that Phare Ponleu Selpak's artists have been shown at the centre.


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Miss Kim Hyan-ju, dance instructor.

A Korean woman is teaching Turkish bellydancing to Cambodian and Western women at the Green Flower guesthouse in Siem Reap.

For anyone who has ever wanted to shake their hips like Shakira or master the moves of a Middle Eastern princess, Miss Kim Hyan-ju is the lady to see.

She studied dance at Suk Myong University in Korea, including disciplines such as Korean folk and modern dance and brings the Middle East flavour to Siem Rap after a recent trip to Turkey, where she was taught bellydancing by a local Turkish woman.

Miss Kim said: "Cambodian women might have interest in learning this style of dance because dancing is such a big part of their culture. Cambodian culture is so related with Indian culture, and you can find a lot of bellydancing throughout India".

She also pointed out that classes for Khmer people are free of charge.

The classes are run on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday each week, and enrolment for one month costs US$50 for foreigners.


Photographs taken by children from Siem Reap's Anjali House during last year's Angkor Photography Festival went on display on February 4 at the Chobi Mela International Festival of Photography at the Goethe Institute in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Anjali House, registered as a local NGO, was created in 2006 under the umbrella of the Angkor Photography Festival Association. It provides refuge, care and education for nearly 80 underprivileged children aged four to 16.

Last November, 32 children from Anjali worked with seven international photographers during two weeks of workshops as part of the Angkor Photography Festival 2008.

The exhibition, called "Through Our Eyes", focused on various aspects of the children's lives, from home life to markets and pagodas and the surrounding countryside.

The children also for the first time started to study computer photo editing towards producing the final show.

Then on February 19, there will be a further international showing of Anjali kids' photography, with an exhibition opening in Madrid.


Pier Poretti and dwarf Nano in Bali

Klick Photo Fine Art Gallery owner Pier Poretti has moved to Bali to establish a new gallery in Ubud, but will soon return to Siem Reap for the local launch of his new book, Angkor Extravaganza, a limited numbered edition for collectors, published by Exart Publishing in  Jakarta and priced at US$200.

Poretti has long been associated with models and glamorous women such as Jane Birkin, Bianca Jagger and Grace Jones, and this book reveals his intense relationship with a new model - a 60cm-short dwarf doll named Nano, which is Italian for dwarf

Poretti acquired the doll in Switzerland in 2006, and when he returned to Siem Reap, he began posing the doll in temple locations and taking photos of it in situ.

Poretti even claims there is a connection between the dwarf and Angkor Wat.

"A dwarf at Angkor is not such a surprise because dwarfs were illustrated in the reliefs of the famous historic procession on the 12th century gallery."

He admits that this developed into an obsession with his "new model", which he claims became "my alter ego, my projection into the photo scene and a full expression of my new inspiration".

He spent most of 2006-07 working with the "archaeological dwarf" at Angkor, and since then has been photographing the doll in Indonesia.

He selected 76 of his Angkor dwarf photos for inclusion in the new book and gave the photos his now-famous hand-tinted treatment.


The Phnom Penh Post joined forces with Funky Munky at last Thursday's weekly pub quiz, raising $149 for the Salatesa charity.

The trivia night has been going strong since 2006, pitting punters against each other for a $50 first prize, with half the money going to charity.

The evening marked the first of four competitions in which patrons can compete for an extra $50 prize and a one-month subscription to the Post.

Taking first place with a perfect score of 61 points was Paddy Power, the Irish dynamos who uphold their country's reputation for both good luck and hard drinking almost every Thursday night.

"Paddy Power will use this prize money to ride off into the sunset together," an elated Paddy told the Post.

In fact, Paddy Power handed the entire Post prize money over to charity.

The Globalteer team won the one-month subscription prize.

The Post bonus cash and free subscription are up for grabs again tonight at the Funky Munky Trivia Night, Pub Street, 9pm.


Last week, NGO Protect the Earth Protect Yourself (PEPY) held a fun launch night at Siem Reap's Silk Lounge, debuting its new fundraising product, the Hipstar valuables belt, a much-needed, Khmer-produced alternative to the appallingly unfashionable bumbag. The belts, made from traditional krama scarves, are funded by PEPY and manufactured at the M'lop Tapang NGO in Sihanoukville.

PEPY is also seeking additional funding to construct a secondary school in the Chanleas Dai district of Siem Reap, where it's building three primary schools. The proposed $68 000 secondary school would provide students in the area with much-needed access to further education.  

Meanwhile, the Trailblazer Foundation has been trying to finalise funding for about the last three months for the planned construction of a six-room school in Ta Trav village, in Siem Reap's Angkor Thom district.

Trailblazer's proposed building will comfortably house classes of level 3 and level 4, and will hopefully boost enrolment numbers in the school to above 350. The current village school is attended by 300 students, many of whom are forced to study in makeshift palm-leaf shelters, which offer bare protection from the strong tropical sun, but are completely inadequate against monsoon rain.