Saturday, December 29, 2007

Arts updates

There's a whole host of photographic exhibitions, film-shows and so on taking place around Phnom Penh at the moment and I can't hope to mention them all, so I'll be selective. I popped into the Two Fish Gallery for the opening night of Elyse Lightman's photo exhibition entitled Glimpse of Cham : The Changing Face of an Imam San Village, which runs til 17 January. Nice photos and a rare look at the lifestyle of the Cham Muslim community. I had dinner with my old pal Eric de Vries last night and he has an exhibition coming up at the McDermott Gallery in Siem Reap sometime soon. He's also opened up a new website here.
Over at the Meta House on Street 264 (near Wat Botum), next month will see a series of films, performances and exhibitions that are definitely worth a visit. Films such as The Killing Fields, The Flute Player, Paper Cannot Wrap Up Embers and To Touch The Soul are all on my list to attend if I have time, whilst live performances from students of Cambodia Living Arts and child prodigy bosbaPanh (on 23 Jan) will take place each Wednesday. Opening on 24 Jan will be a new exhibition, Art of Survival, by over 20 Cambodian artists who will reflect on the Khmer Rouge genocide, confront the past and shape the future. Artists of the calibre of Chhim Sothy, Hen Sophal, Vandy Rattana, Sou Mey and Sokuntevy Oeur will all be involved. Currently on display at Meta until 20 Jan, are the results of a workshop by Swiss photographer Beat Presser, who also has an exhibition at the National Museum called Oasis of Silence.

Postscript: I've just returned home from watching David Brisbin's Nice Hat! documentary at Meta House in which he looks at Cambodia through the medium of hats and does it very successfully in my view. I thoroughly enjoyed the film, it gave a different perspective on Cambodia and that gets a tick in my result card. I found myself nodding as Rithy Panh explained on film how the krama - so important in everyday Khmer life as a head-covering amongst its many other uses - also became intrinsically linked to the Khmer Rouge regime and became tainted as a result. I had often wondered about this association but never voiced it to any of my Khmer friends. A pleasant surprise for the audience was the introduction of 'James Bond', the cute temple guide, who was in Phnom Penh to watch the film for the first time himself, even though it was filmed five years ago. Vern Ven is a switched-on guy, speaks four languages and hopes to become an official tour guide, rather than the endearing kid that made everyone smile on the film.

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