culture360.asef.org » Magazine http://culture360.asef.org Connecting Asia and Europe through arts and culture Thu, 09 Oct 2014 10:27:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.1 Pro Helvetia cultural programmes in Asia | Interview with Murielle Perritazhttp://culture360.asef.org/magazine/pro-helvetia-cultural-programmes-in-asia-interview-with-murielle-perritaz/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pro-helvetia-cultural-programmes-in-asia-interview-with-murielle-perritaz http://culture360.asef.org/magazine/pro-helvetia-cultural-programmes-in-asia-interview-with-murielle-perritaz/#comments Fri, 03 Oct 2014 08:22:35 +0000 Florent Petit http://culture360.asef.org/?p=44794

In this interview with our ASEF culture360 contributor Florent Petit, Murielle Perritaz, Head of Programmes at the Swiss Art Council Helvetia talks about its cultural activities focusing in particular on the Asia-Pacific region and on projects related to digital culture.  Read More

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Murielle Perritaz, Head of Programmes at Pro Helvetia

 

 

In this interview with our ASEF culture360 contributor Florent Petit, Murielle Perritaz, Head of Programmes at the Swiss Art Council Helvetia talks about its cultural activities focusing in particular on the Asia-Pacific region and on projects related to digital culture.

Mrs Perritaz also stresses the fundamental importance of networking with local operators in order to develop relevant cultural exchanges.

 

Could you introduce Pro Helvetia and tell us about your goals and missions?

The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia is mandated by the Swiss Confederation to promote contemporary artistic creation in Switzerland, contribute to cultural exchange at home, promote the dissemination of Swiss culture abroad and foster cultural outreach.

Pro Helvetia supports projects in different ways: on the basis of applications, via its network of cultural centres (Paris, Rome, Milan, New York and San Francisco) and liaison offices abroad (Johannesburg, New Delhi, Shanghai, Cairo) and in the context of its own programmes (including Russia) as well as through information and promotional materials.

 

Pro Helvetia has two liaison offices in New Delhi and Shanghai. What are the activities of these offices and which kind of relations could you develop with local cultural scenes?

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2013 Swiss Game Designer at Game Gazer India, Goa-Bangalore

These two liaison offices work similarly to culture agencies. They don’t have their own facilities for events at their disposal, but they reinforce contacts with their region and nurture long-term partnerships. They introduce Swiss cultural projects to local organizers, initiate co-productions with cultural practitioners from the region and organize residencies.

These offices cover quite large regions, New Delhi is responsible for the South of Asia and Shanghai covers China (including Hong Kong and Macao).

 

Do you have any other project in other areas of the Asia-Pacific region (Australia, Japan, Southeast Asia…)?

We regularly take part in specific collaborative projects, mainly in Japan, Australia and Singapore, within the context of special events or festivals such as the Japan Media Arts Festival, the Arts Biennale of Sydney or the Singapore International Band Festival.

We don’t have for the moment any plan to open new offices or developing additional programmes in the Asia-Pacific region. This is mostly due to limited financial resources, yet we are very much aware that there is a great potential for cultural exchanges with these regions.

Through its programmes,  Pro Helvetia highly values digital culture and creative industries. Could you give us an example of project with an Asian counterpart on these topics?

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2013 Young Swiss Design Exhibition in Shanghai, Chang LIU

So far, our programme dedicated to digital culture has mostly focused on the creation of a fertile ground and environment for digital art in Switzerland to blossom, and the social and cultural impact of digital technologies.

On an international level, we engage in high visibility and dissemination events, such as the exhibition presented in the China Millennium Monument Museum of Digital Arts in Beijing. We are also organizing promotional campaigns that allow creators working in that field to establish themselves in international markets, which is something vital for the existence of their projects. This is the reason why we are participating in events such as the Tokyo Game show.

 

 

How would you assess cultural relations between Switzerland and the Asian region so far? Which kind of initiatives could be taken to further develop them?

Whether you consider the promotion of Swiss art in Asian countries or cultural exchange projects (such as residencies, co-productions, etc.) so far the results have been very positive. We realized that there is a strong and increasing interest for these kind of exchanges and the feedback we get from involved artists is extremely positive. Of course, this requires a lot of efforts, adaptation and flexibility.

Our offices in Asia play a very strategic role in this sense. This is why we are only hiring local operators, with a deep knowledge of the local cultural sector and the capacity to create a link between the two cultures. Our offices are also actively working in order to develop their field of action, getting in touch with new partners. For instance, our branch in New Delhi extensively widened its network in South Asia these last years, in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan.

But at the end of the day a lot depends on the available financial resources. The intensification of exchanges depends on our capacity to find partners in the private sector.

 

How do you envision the future of cultural relations between Switzerland and Asia?

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2013 Pipilotti Rist Exhibition in Guangzhou, China, Times Museum

What really matters for us is to develop long-term relations with cultural actors based in Switzerland and abroad. They both have to find a mutual interest in this process. We do think there is a need to strengthen projects that allow to create long-term relations and dialogue. For that reason, it is important for us to reinforce cooperation and co-production projects, and not limit ourselves to the sole export of Swiss projects abroad.


What kind of advice would you give to Asian professionals willing to present their work in Switzerland or set up collaborative projects with Swiss artists?

Our core mission is to promote Swiss culture abroad and exchanges with foreign cultures. This means we won’t be able to help foreign professionals directly to show their work in Switzerland, but we can advise them on networks and potential partners. So I would invite them to contact our offices in Shanghai and New Delhi for sure.

They can also apply to our artists in residency programme. Cultural actors coming from the countries where we are settled can benefit from research stays in Switzerland in order to connect and create links with Swiss artists and structures.

 

Useful links:

 

Florent Petit is a former project officer in the cultural unit of the French Embassy in Japan. He holds a Master’s degree in Art History from the Sorbonne University in Paris and in International Relations from the Institute of Political Studies of Lyon. Former lecturer of Chinese, Korean and Japanese art in the Ecole du Louvre in Paris, he has occupied several curatorial positions in museums in France (Asian Unit of the Musée du quai Branly, Paris) and Luxembourg (Mudam, Museum of contemporary art, Luxembourg City).

 

 

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Malta | A Silent Pathway Towards a Cultural Boom?http://culture360.asef.org/news/malta-a-silent-pathway-towards-a-cultural-boom/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=malta-a-silent-pathway-towards-a-cultural-boom http://culture360.asef.org/news/malta-a-silent-pathway-towards-a-cultural-boom/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 07:23:12 +0000 Herman Bashiron Mendolicchio http://culture360.asef.org/?p=44636

Rich in history, tradition, and archaeology, renowned as an intercultural passage of different populations in the heart of the Mediterranean, the small island of Malta is truly astonishing for its variety of faces, lineages, languages and architecture.  Read More

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Rich in history, tradition, and archaeology, renowned as an intercultural passage of different populations in the heart of the Mediterranean, the small island of Malta is truly astonishing for its variety of faces, lineages, languages and architecture. Many words and stories have been written about the history and culture of Malta, but little is known, at an international level, about its contemporary culture.

After 7000 years of cultural and historical heritage that has shaped the Maltese local identity, the country is now facing a dawning era of new geopolitical mechanisms and balances, entailing new global connections and stimulating challenges.

Internationalisation, mobility, cooperation, networking and creative exchange are some of the keywords that are currently transforming the cultural policies and artistic practices at an international level.

How is Malta responding to these global demands? How is it positioning itself in the international cultural landscape? What are the opportunities and the challenges of a new cultural strategy and development?

From the Past to the Future

A few years ago, in 2009, while in Malta for an international project, I took the chance to visit some cultural institutions and search for contemporary art spaces. The power of the historical heritage combined with the beauty of the Mediterranean landscape was dense and enveloping. The fortress city of Valletta, Fort St. Elmo, the Grand Harbour, the peaceful and mysterious town of Mdina, medieval walls, castles, astonishing cathedrals, Baroque pomp, Caravaggio, and so on, are just some of the cultural magnificence that delight the eyes and leaves one breathless.

But what about contemporary art? Where is the contemporary art museum? Where are the spaces for visual arts?

Beyond the all-encompassing St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity and some independent and alternative initiatives – notably, the MCA (Malta Contemporary Art), founded by artist and curator Mark Mangion – the contemporary scene of Malta proved to be quite disappointing. Nevertheless, in recent years, the growing interest in contemporary arts, the opening up to the international arena, and the strong determination and efforts of several Maltese cultural professionals have contributed in transforming the panorama and are paving the way for a new cultural moment.

In 2011, an important official document – the National Cultural Policy – was discussed and released. A new vision concerning needs, strategies, methods and tools to improve the cultural sector is about to begin.

The National Cultural Policy focuses on the cultural development needs in Malta. These include:

  • improved cultural governance structures
  • international cultural cooperation
  • strengthening the professional status of the artist
  • articulating the specific needs of the arts, heritage and audiovisuals
  • development of the cultural and creative industries
  • recognition of cultural rights, cultural socialisation and cultural inclusion
  • ensuring the long-term sustainability of the cultural sector

A change in national policies; a clear commitment in order to discuss and develop measures in favour of the cultural sector; the establishment of new principles, strategies and actions to ensure a public and participative cultural debate, were some of the key points stressed in the document.

Among the different points analysed, it is interesting to observe the importance of international cooperation. 

International Cooperation. Building international cultural bridges helps in the promotion of diversity, dialogue and cooperation in cultural activities and in enhancing the professionalism of the sector. Bilateral and multilateral cultural agreements need to be backed up with the necessary material resources in order to transform cultural diplomacy into an effective tool in support of cultural development. The mobility of cultural collections, works of art, artists and cultural professionals are key areas in which public and private investment in international cultural cooperation should be encouraged.

A year later, in 2012, the National Strategy for the Cultural and Creative Industries – drawn up by the Creative Economy Working Group – began exploring the links between economy and creativity. Among the different proposals, the Strategy aims

“to position Malta as an attractive, contemporary and stimulating creative hub within the Mediterranean region, with strong emphasis on exchange and access to international markets”.

The path towards a new cultural era was opened and Malta’s cultural sector was to reap the fruits of its own labour. Heritage Malta and the Malta Council for Culture & the Arts (currently changing its name to ACM, Arts Council Malta) – the main cultural institutions, both founded in 2002 – began widening its influence and multiplying its activities.


The future is now and it’s already very busy in Malta.

In October 2016, Valletta, the capital city, will host the 7th World Summit on Arts and Culture. As announced by the MCCA, “Co-hosted with the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA), the World Summit will welcome around 500 delegates from 80 countries to discuss the major issues impacting the arts”. A few months after the Summit, in the first semester of 2017, Malta will run the EU Presidency. In 2018, Valletta will be European Capital of Culture. This last achievement, officially declared in May 2013, was received as a great triumph and sparked a powerful wave of hope and enthusiasm.

This crescendo of international events is positively shaking the whole cultural field in Malta and is already generating a highly interesting series of activities.

The VIVA Festival (Valletta International Visual Arts), the very first event entirely devoted to contemporary visual arts in Malta; the series of conferences titled Dialogue in the Med: exploring identity through networks; and Science in the City, a festival where science meets art, are just some of the very recent events that are taking place these days in Malta.

Compared to other European countries, which are suffering drastic cuts in the cultural sector, Malta seems to be walking towards a more serene and stimulating scenario.

General cultural funding is improving, though there are still many challenges to face. The construction of a new museum dedicated to Modern and Contemporary Art (a highly controversial issue); the need to design a clear mobility funding framework, which takes into account both incoming and outgoing mobility projects; the establishment of new cultural bridges and long-term cooperation projects both within the cultural reality of Malta and at an international level – in the Mediterranean, Europe, Asia and worldwide – are key objectives that require serious commitment and firm responsibility. Many are the risks in this complex pathway, but still there are more opportunities ahead that numerous cultural professionals hope will benefit the entire Maltese society.

 

Useful links:

 

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Between two-cultures : Euro-Asian creative personalities (part I)http://culture360.asef.org/magazine/between-two-cultures-euro-asian-creatives-people/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=between-two-cultures-euro-asian-creatives-people http://culture360.asef.org/magazine/between-two-cultures-euro-asian-creatives-people/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 02:00:22 +0000 Magali An Berthon http://culture360.asef.org/?p=44651

These 2 interviews are part of a focus on creative industries and creative personalities from a Euro-Asian background.  Read More

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In 2014, culture360 invites a number of special correspondents to get an insight on issues that are highly discussed in the cultural sector across Asia and Europe.

Magali An Berthon, will explore arts, crafts and design topics focusing on Southeast Asia and France. Through a number of in-depth articles and interviews, she will attempt to portray creative profiles emerging from a new young generation of artists and designers without borders. She will also focus on inspiring initiatives renewing and promoting local crafts and traditions.

In this fifth article, Magali An has interviewed two notable Euro-Asian creative personalitiesFrench-Vietnamese illustrator Marcelino Truong -who has just published his first autobiographic graphic novel about his childhood in Vietnam during the war; Paris-based Vietnamese actress and designer Yen Khê Tran Nhu- who has worked closely for the past twenty years with Tran Anh Hung, Vietnamese director of “The smell of green papaya” (Golden camera at Cannes Film Festival).

These 2 interviews are part of a focus on creative industries and creative personalities from a Euro-Asian background. Actress, illustrator, craftsmen or fashion designer, they all have insightful personal stories. Whether they were born in Europe or Asia, whether they have chosen to live in their country of origin or decided to settle elsewhere, we discover in these interviews their artistic universe and find out how their double-culture impacted their creative lives.

 

Interview with Marcelino Truong

 

ph Marcelino Truong à la table lum par Sébastien ORTOLA

Marcelino Truong

Marcelino Truong is a Paris-based illustrator, painter and author born from a Vietnamese father and a French mother.  In his graphic novel, “Une si jolie petite guerre” (Such A Lovely Little  War), published by Denoël Graphic, Paris, in 2012, Marcelino looks back in awe at the drowned world of his Saigon childhood at the outset of the Vietnam war.

 

1- Marcelino Truong, could you introduce our readers to your background?

I was born in the Philippines in 1957 and take my first name from our street in Manilla, la calle San Marcelino. At that time, my father was a junior diplomat serving the Republic of Vietnam, or South-Vietnam in those days. We later moved to Washington DC, USA, until, in 1961, my father was called back to Saigon, as part of the J.F. Kennedy project to beef-up the American effort in South Vietnam.

We spent roughly one thousand eventful days in Saigon at the beginning of what some foreign correspondents at first saw as a lovely debonair little war in an exotic country of elephants and tigers, but the conflict later morphed into the monstrous world-shaking Vietnam war.

We left Vietnam for England in July 1963, a few months before both Presidents Diêm and Kennedy were assassinated.

All this is, along with our day-to-day family life, I describe in much detail in my graphic novel, Une si jolie petite guerre, which will appear in Germany in April 2015, released by Egmont Graphic Novel, under the title Ein schöner kleiner Krieg. I grew up in London. We lived in the suburb of Wimbledon. My sisters, brother and I would hop on the District Line to go to the trendy French Lycée in South Kensington.

At age 15, I was dispatched to a boarding school in Saint-Malo, Brittany. Having no idea of what I wanted to do in life, I decided to start by collecting degrees. I set off for Paris and its prestigious Institut d’études politiques (Sciences Po). I was 20 when I graduated and then moved down a step to the Sorbonne where I read English Literature, which to me seemed an almost Bohemian occupation after Law school. After accomplishing my military service in the Marine nationale, the French Navy, I went back to English Literature at the Sorbonne, ready to cram for the dreaded competitive exam called l’agrégation. I had however not completely given up doing something artistic, so I quit teaching English after a year and decided to plunge – kamikaze style – into the world of comics and illustration. This was back in 1983, for me, the year of living dangerously. I had to learn my trade on the job.

One of my first breakthroughs was a commission for a four-page comics story in Metal Aventure, an avant-garde comic-strip magazine then run by Jean-Luc Fromental, who is now- thirty years later – my editor at Denoël Graphic in Paris.

2- Could you describe your artistic practice?

My work runs in three main directions: illustration for adult and young readers in newspapers, magazines or books. I also produce paintings. The third direction was opened in 2012 with the publishing of my autobiographical graphic novel Une si jolie petite guerre- Saigon 1961-75 (Denoël Graphic), which I mentioned earlier on. The graphic novel is a genre for teenagers and adults which I find very fitting for my purpose. It’s a crossbreed between a novel and a comic-strip album. I am currently busying myself with the making of the sequel (1963-75) under the title Give Peace A Chance. The animated film also beckons me, now and then. I designed the characters and sets of a 26′ film by Henri Heidsieck called Petit Wang – Little Wang (La Fabrique, France, 2005), which was awarded a prize at the Annecy Animated Film Festival in 2006.

For a long time I worked hard to learn my craft as an illustrator, with neither leisure nor space to think about writing. I do now. I feel that it is sometimes best when possible to write the story yourself. Otherwise illustrators are dependent on the texts which publishers hand over to them. Sometimes, you wait in vain for the story you are hoping for.

In all my work, Asia and especially Vietnam, are quite often present. That’s were being half French and half Vietnamese comes in. Asia and Vietnam are topics I have spent much of my life studying and well, I was, shall we say, “to the manner born”.

3- Where does your love for art come from ?

As a child, I enjoyed drawing. This is a gift which I inherited from my French mother Yvette who painted, drew, made ceramics, sowed, played the piano and was probably an artist at heart who ignored her real calling. My father was a very literary and erudite person – a great translator -  very much the eternal scholar with a poet’s sensibility, I think. He was good with a photo camera as well.

My brother Dominique was really good at drawing too and I thought him more daring than I was. I think he could have become a very good artist had he not decided to head for the exit in his mid-twenties.

Growing up in the sixties, I played endlessly with my Action Man toy-doll soldiers and designed sets for their battles. I pushed the realism quite far. Only a few of these photos have survived. I think that staging stories for my Action Men was somehow a clue as to a future path in art or written fiction. But at the time I didn’t think that far, it was really out of my reach. I didn’t come from an environment where such things were encouraged. At school, I was quite good at French, History, English and Art. But only the good marks in the “noble” subjects were appreciated at home.

I’ve always thought highly of manual labour and skill and find it greatly underrated.

4- Is there any Asian artist who is a reference or an inspiration for your work?

I love the Vietnamese painters from the Fine Arts School of Indochina which existed from 1925 to 1945. I love the works of many of the artists who studied there, such as Tô Ngoc Van, one of the masters, who joined the communist Viet-Minh independence movement in 1945 and was sadly killed in a bombing in 1954. His pencil drawings are sensitive and elegant. There are many others such as Mai Van Hiên, Lê Phô, etc…

Of course, I’m very fond of the Japanese artists of the Tokugawa period. Who isn’t ? : Hiroshige, Hokusai, Utamaro and so on…This liking shows in the three samurai picture-books for young readers I have produced, a series which starts with Le Samouraï errant - The Wandering Samurai (Editions Gautier-Languereau, Paris, 2006).

Here’s a senior Chinese comic-strip artist from Shanghai, whom I greatly admire. His name is He Youzhi. God knows how you pronounce it ! Born in 1922 !  Google his name ! I’m fascinated by his depictions of the daily life in China before and during the Maoist Revolution.

5- Do you think that your Asian background influences your work?

I have always been interested in the history of Vietnam and in its way of life. These supply me with most of my ideas and subjects. I suppose this comes from my Asian background, of course. Maybe living away from Vietnam for most of my life has strengthened this obsession ? Perhaps if I had lived most of my life in Vietnam I would be attracted to and obsessed by the West ?

I practice Tai Chi nowadays after having dabbled with several martial arts and feel much at home with those oriental gestures, postures and contortions !

6- Tell us about your first return to Vietnam?

A long story which would keep us up all night !

I returned to Vietnam in 1991, eight years after my first steps as an artist. I was eager to go back.

Until 1986, the country was shut off from the Western world. Thus, in 1991, under a layer of grime and mold, almost nothing had changed in the Saigon I had known. In spite of the poverty and lack of freedom which afflicted Vietnam, I loved its people.

I was lucky enough to be welcomed and chaperoned by one of my father’s cousins, Ly Chanh Trung, a former senior civil servant of the Republic of Vietnam (the South), who acted as an undercover informant for the National Liberation Front and in 1975 became a member of the National Assembly. Thanks to him, I met all of my Vietnamese extended family, who had taken part in the revolution : a French-speaking generation just like my father. It was interesting to hear their stories, as I had grown up mainly in the West, away from the war and on the anti-communist side of the fray. This was of great help later for the writing of my graphic novel Une si jolie petite guerre. It’s always important to hear what the other side has to say.

7- What does “double culture” mean to you and does it have an impact on your work and how it is perceived?

I see myself as a sort of go-between, a courier, a ferryman, drifting from one shore to the other, from West to East and East bank to West bank, telling one world about the other.

When you’re a métis, a “mixed-race” (sounds awful, doesn’t it ?), you carry both worlds within you. I try to decipher one world and to make it clear to the other.

It’s about learning or trying to learn a completely different language : Vietnamese.

It’s throwing aside jeans and shoes as often as possible and running around in baggy thai pants and flip-flops. It’s about boring my friends into a deep coma when I start lecturing them on this or that topic of Vietnamese history. It’s also enjoying two very different cuisines. I do a lot of cooking, French or Vietnamese.

www.marcelinotruong.com

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Interview with Yen Khê Tran Nhu

 

Yenkhetrannu

Yen Khê Tran Nu

Yen Khê Tran Nu is a Vietnamese actress and designer based in Paris, best known for her roles in the Tran Anh Hung’s trilogy: Cyclo (1995), The smell of green papaya (1993) and The vertical ray of sun (2000). As Tran Anh Hung’s partner and closest collaborator, she is also in charge of costume and set designs of all his films.

 

1- Could you tell us a bit about yourself ?

Yen Khê is my first name which my grandfather has imagined ​​for me. This means “Fog on the source”, opacity and clarity, and I find that this antagonism suits me.

I left Vietnam in 1974 to follow my family in France. I was one year old. My mother, my sisters and I came back to Danang in 1980, to visit my grandparents. It was five years after the war ended and the country was in such a big misery. Since then I have never stopped going back to my grandparents’, and later, for work.

I grew up in Paris but Vietnam has always had a special place in my heart.

After high school, I spent one year at the “Ecole du Louvre,” followed by a degree in design and interior architecture at the Camondo school in Paris.

Meanwhile, I took dramatic art classes, on the recommandation of my piano teacher, to overcome my shyness. Filmmaker Tran Anh Hung – who was looking for an actress for his short film graduates- found me in this class. I agreed to appear in his first film and since we have been working together on every project.

2- Describe your artistic practice.

I was very young when I acted in the short film ”A married woman of Nam Xuong” which allowed Hung to shoot his second short film and meet Christophe Rossignon, future producer of his three movies about Vietnam. “The Smell of Green Papaya,” won numerous awards (Golden Camera in Cannes, César for Best Film, Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film) which helped the filming of ‘Cyclo’, filmed in Ho Chi Minh City, awarded with Golden Lion at Venice. It was an unforgettable experience.

Then I went back to Vietnam with ‘”The vertical ray of sun,” this time in Hanoi.

I was very lucky to be able to embody these beautiful portraits of Vietnamese women, as I did not grow up in Vietnam but felt very influenced by this culture. My parents were more anxious to transmit to us the culture customs, starting with food.

I learned to speak the language with the Northern accent, leaving the the central tone from my hometown, much to the discontent of my mother.

For me it was a wonderful way to get back to my roots and try to give the viewers a different view of this country.

Beyond my role as an actress, I have always advised Hung on the visual aspect of his films. It is likely that I will do the art direction for ”Eternity,” his next movie which should run in 2015.

 

3-Where does your love of art come from?

My meeting with Tran Anh Hung was important. I was only 19. With him I discovered films screened at the French Cinematheque: Murnau, John Ford, Mizoguchi, the operas of Wagner, Glenn Gould, Kawabata novels, Tanizaki…

In my family, literature, poetry, painting and music have always held a central place. My maternal grandfather was a great doctor: acupuncturist, calligrapher and martial arts master. My mother was a literature and ancient Chinese professor at the University of Hue. She also had a beautiful voice and could have become a singer. But as the only daughter of a large family, it was permitted for her. My father has worked for 30 years for France-Libertés, in charge of humanitarian aid programs in Asia. He is the author of five books, four about Vietnam.

My paternal grandfather was an engineer and left us beautiful sea paintings.  All of this is undoubtedly part of who I am.

4- Do you think your Asian background influence your work?

Yes, without a doubt.

Arrived as a child, I did all my studies in France, like any French child would. This is how my mind and my thoughts have been formed. However in regards to my heart and emotions, things are much more complex. It is about atavism. I was lucky to grow up in Paris, into a mixed culture family in a cosmopolitan city which has allowed me to see the the greatest artists to the most confidential exhibitions, listen to music and read international authors, taste all kinds of cuisines. This is why I find the term “double culture” somewhat restrictive. I would rather say that I was bathed in a “multicultural” environment which forced me to make specific choices which built my personality.

5- What are your artistic references and sources of inspiration for your work?

feel the closest to the Japanese culture: literature, film, architecture, design, culinary arts, fashion… ! The Japanese way of life has managed to combine tradition and modernity with inventiveness and unparalleled precision.

It was a great challenge for me to go to Japan for the first time to design the costumes and sets of the movie “Norwegian Wood.” I especially designed eight sets at the legendary studios TOHO. I stayed one year in Japan and this time has deeply influenced me.

6-You are one of the few actresses of Asian origin based in France. What do you think of the absence of Asian faces in French cinema and in the media?

Of course I regret that there is not more ethnic diversity in films and the media in France. Many people think that I only accept to act in Tran Anh Hung’s films. But it would be ridiculous if it were true. It’s just that there are very few roles for Asian actors. The Asian community in France is probably too low-key and therefore it creates no desire of representation in the audience’s mind. In other words, Asians are “uneventful” as one would say.

7 Do your current projects bring you back to Vietnam regularly?

Usually I go to Vietnam once a year. Often in Hanoi, because spending eighteen months for ‘”The vertical ray of sun” has marked me and have created strong friendships there. However in the recent years I spend most of my time in Danang to be with my family. It is a quiet and relaxing seaside town, near Hoi An, a charming village.

In the future, I would love to explore further Ho Chi Minh City. I have actually just spend there two months to develop a design project of high-end furniture.

When the time comes to decide where to live in Vietnam, it won’t be an easy choice !

 

Magali An Berthon is a French Vietnamese textile designer and editor based in Paris. Graduate of the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris, she has gathered a valuable experience as a textile designer for fashion and home collections.  She finds inspiration in her many travels especially in South-East Asia and has developed a deep interest for ethnic arts & crafts, natural fabrics and dyes. In parallel, she works as a writer and documentarist specialized particularly on textile know-how from all over the world. 

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DOK Leipzig Lake Festival: Asia-Europe confluence through Documentary | Indiahttp://culture360.asef.org/magazine/dok-leipzig-lake-festival-asia-europe-confluence-through-documentary-india/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dok-leipzig-lake-festival-asia-europe-confluence-through-documentary-india http://culture360.asef.org/magazine/dok-leipzig-lake-festival-asia-europe-confluence-through-documentary-india/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 04:44:27 +0000 Valentina Riccardi http://culture360.asef.org/?p=44276

The second edition of the DOK Leipzig Lake Festival of documentaries was held between April 17 to 21, 2014 at The Lake Resort, Naukuchiatal, Uttarakhand, India.  Read More

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Contributed by Parul Wadhwa

 

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The second edition of the DOK Leipzig Lake Festival of documentaries was held between April 17 to 21, 2014 at The Lake Resort, Naukuchiatal, Uttarakhand, India. It was a non-competitive festival, essentially dedicated to an abandoned intellectual and cultural space in a stress-free environment .The highlight was to initiate conversations around documentary, more on the form than the content. On the struggles and choices documentarians make and the why of it. On the issues of ethics and confidentiality and how it affects the form – and can lead to even greater creativity if a film-maker strives for it. Based on the idea of ‘Documentarian’, the festival had great evenings of informal debates around the constraints in documentary film-making as it was, is and may be.

Several documentary filmmakers, critics and programmers attended the festival. Parul Wadhwa had the opportunity to interview a few of them regarding their impressions of the Festival.

The interviews were conducted with:

  • Claas Danielsen-Festival, Director of DOK Leipzig, Germany;
  • Aruna Vasudev-film historian and founder of NETPAC (the Network for Promotion of Asian Cinema);
  • Deepti DCunha-Film programmer, India;
  • Fernand Melgar-documentary filmmaker (Special Flight), Switzerland. 

 

Q. What is the historical importance of DOK Leipzig? And in that framework, how do you see the value of holding an Indian edition of DOK Leipzig?

A. Claas Danielsen: DOK Leipzig was founded in 1955. When we celebrated the 50th edition I did some research and to my great surprise found out that our festival seems to be the oldest documentary festival in the world. In the 1960s and 1970s the festival was a meeting place for the greatest international “documentarians” of their time while the 1980s became a darker chapter in the festival history with pressure and censorship by the East German authorities. Nowadays, after the unification of Germany, DOK Leipzig has become the second biggest European documentary film festival and one of the leading events of its kind in the world.

For us it is a great honour to have been invited by Neelima Mathur to curate a programme of the finest documentaries we have shown in Leipzig for the Lake Festival in India. The Lake Festival offers documentary professionals as well as a general audience of cinephiles the opportunity to discover outstanding international documentaries. We hope to get into good contact with Indian filmmakers and to make our festival better known in the Indian documentary community.

 

Q. What are the main gaps/needs in the documentary filmmaking sector when it comes to Asia-Europe collaborations?

A. Aruna Vasudev: The DOK Leipzig Lake Festival is a wonderful initiative to take deeply meaningful documentaries to young and older people outside the metro centres. All these decades, everything has always been designed for the urban audience but the large majority of people live outside the urban centres. There are definitely gaps and needs in this sector with little enough information and networking available. The Lake Festival can form a bridge by bringing more European documentary filmmakers to the festival to hold discussions and talks with both aspiring filmmakers and also with educational and cultural institutions around the area. Perhaps the Lake Festival could hold one or two workshops on documentary filmmaking in Naukuchiatal itself, where information on funding within India and in Europe, could also be disseminated.

A. Deepti DCunha: Lack of funding is a constant struggle with documentary filmmakers but there is also a definite and urgent need for information to be available to all aspiring documentary filmmakers about sources of funding. In terms of networking platforms there are some initiatives but not enough. In my opinion, the most important step for documentary filmmaking in India( I can’t speak for Asia) is audience development. As long as people in India are not interested in documentary as a form of film and are unwilling to engage with this form as audiences, most initiatives are bound to fail. Hence documentaries, which are right now post college viewing experiences, have to be introduced to a much larger section of people at a much younger age.
In this aspect DOKLeipzig Lake festival at Naukuchiatal can be instrumental by having workshops for selected projects of filmmakers where they can be creatively mentored with the expertise of people associated with the festival, either from DOKLeipzig, Germany or any other partners. The session with Fernand Melger this year at the lake festival, for example, was extremely enriching. Such exchange of ideas should continue by inviting interesting documentary filmmakers to share their experience and approach to their craft.

 

Q. As a filmmaker from Europe, what is your impression of the Lake Festival? Any special features that interest you as a filmmaker?

A. Fernand Melger: The Lake Festival is a very interesting festival. First of all because it makes you discover an unknown Indian Region. As we primarily always think about the hub of Delhi or Mumbai, we cannot imagine that in the region of the festival are so many people passionate for documentaries. The festival allowed me to discover an Indian filmography and to create links with Indian directors, producers and journalists, which is quiet rare.

Q. Could you describe the process of curation used in the Dok Leipzig festival? Could you also elaborate on the larger vision of the Dok Leipzig festival to start a Lake edition?

A. Claas Danielsen: The above mentioned description of what a good documentary is to me defines important aspects of what kind of films we as festival programmers look for. We try to show the best new documentaries from all over the world at DOK Leipzig which we choose out of approximately 3,000 films that we screen every year. New trends and tendencies in international documentary filmmaking are reflected in our curation which tries to assemble the finest works of their kind in the festival. The programme of the DOK Leipzig Lake Festival is much smaller than the one of our festival. Therefore we select the best of the best of what we have previously shown in Leipzig for this fine festival in India. These films should stand for the diversity and high quality of contemporary documentary which we bring to the small and very niche audience of the Lake Festival.

 

A detailed photo-essay on the festival can be found at:
http://www.formedia.org.in/lake-festival-2014/share-the-experience.html

 

These interviews were conducted as part of a media partnership between the ASia-Europe Foundation online portal culture360 and Formedia (India), arranged and designed by Parul Wadhwa, an independent documentarian (India/USA). We thank for the additional support Anupama Sekhar, Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) and Neelima Mathur, Formedia(India).

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Lê Cát Trọng Lý, a unique voice in Viet Namhttp://culture360.asef.org/magazine/le-cat-trong-ly-a-unique-voice-in-vietnam/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=le-cat-trong-ly-a-unique-voice-in-vietnam http://culture360.asef.org/magazine/le-cat-trong-ly-a-unique-voice-in-vietnam/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 03:13:21 +0000 Magali An Berthon http://culture360.asef.org/?p=43608

Songwriter Le Cat Trong Ly stands out as the new leading figure of contemporary folk music in Vietnam, mixing Western influences to more traditional Vietnamese sounds  Read More

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In 2014, culture360 invites a  to get an insight on issues that are highly discussed in the cultural sector across Asia and Europe.

Magali An Berthon, will explore arts, crafts and design topics focusing on Southeast Asia and France. Through a number of in-depth articles and interviews, she will attempt to portray creative profiles emerging from a new young generation of artists and designers without borders. She will also focus on inspiring initiatives renewing and promoting local crafts and traditions.

In this fourth article, Magali An invites you to listen to a unique voice which has raised in Vietnam in the last five years. Songwriter Le Cat Trong Ly stands out as the new leading figure of contemporary folk music in Vietnam, mixing Western influences to more traditional Vietnamese sounds, appearing as the worthy representative of Tring Cong Son’s heritage with her distinctive music and lyrics.

 

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Since Vietnam has opened its borders to globalization leading to an extensive economic growth, new generations of Vietnamese have started to listen to international songs directly imported from the Western world along with other influential Asian countries such as Korea and Japan.

In this highly saturated music market, there is little room for the independent voices of Vietnamese artists. Contradicting this overall trend, music phenomenon Lê Cát Trọng Lý has gathered more and more attention for the past five years with her one-of-a-kind music, offering a successful alternative to the Vietnamese standardized music scene.

 

An original path in music

Born in 1987, Lê Cát Trọng Lý originally came from Danang city in central Vietnam, where she grew up between the hills and the sandy beaches. She then moved to Saigon in 2007 to pursue classical music studies and viola practice. Initially she never intended to become a singer and she modestly started in 2007 in a small bar in Saigon called the Nep Café, with only a dozen people attending. Benefiting from an increasing positive and enthusiastic feedback, she kept playing at this venue for the next two years, gathering more and more aficionados wishing to see her sing american covers in English and original songs in Vietnamese. During her time at Nep Café, she has composed over twenty-four songs demonstrating a surprising mix between Western sounds and Vietnamese folk music.

It is in this sway that the artist has found her own style. Lý admits having been listening to American folk music from a very early age and she also acknowledges being strongly influenced by the Vietnamese folk melodies and Trịnh Công Sơn‘s music in particular, the music master who passed away in 2001. He is considered the « Vietnamese Bob Dylan » with his famous anti-war songs. These two main influences are very noticeable in her songs.

Lý made ​her first official media appearance in 2008 on television when she won the Young composer and Song of the Year Awards at a Vietnamese national contest with her song “Chenh Vênh” (Trembling).

Following this breakthrough, she released her first eponymous album in early 2011 with nine original songs such as « Lúng Ta Lúng Túng » (Intrigued), « Mùa Yêu » (Love season) or the awarded « Chenh Vênh »…

 

le cat trong ly acoustic

 

A poetic icon

With her simple look, her short hair and make-up free child-like face, and always carrying a guitar, Lê Cát Trọng Lý stands out from the more common Vietnamese artificial divas modelled on Korean k-pop girlsbands.

The singer therefore appeals to a more mature crowd, composed by an intellectual generation of Vietnamese, curious of their own culture and sensitive to her poetic lyrics.

Writing all her songs herself, Lý’s style is mostly acoustic, using a guitar or a piano, sometimes along strings and drums, to support her crystalline voice on melancholic heartfelt ballads. The minimalist feeling of the ensemble allows the audience to deeply feel the depth and tone of her words and to be caught by her clear voice.

Do not underestimate her petite silhouette and soft voice ! Often compared to Joni Mitchell or Tracy Chapman, the song-writer has a very strong presence on stage, enchanting a solid crowd of followers and having all her concerts sold out.

 

A free-spirited heart

Two years ago, Lê Cát Trọng Lý has left a swirling Saigon for a quiet Hanoi, to seek a more peaceful environment to create her music. Not very career oriented, she keeps herself away from media coverage and self promotion, only dedicated to singing and pleasing her growing audience.

Free-spirited, untied to any specific music label, she is only driven by her passion for music, staying remotely away from any stardom aspiration.

Deeply rooted in the Buddhist philosophy, her poetic lyrics appeal to the beauty of natural elements, considering the universe as a whole,  linking nature to people and their emotions. In a very fascinating and refreshing way, her view on life stands far away from the usual consumerist spirit driving most of the young Vietnamese generation.

Lý has released her second album entitled « Tuổi 25 » meaning « 25 years old » at the end of year 2013. In this new record, she has integrated more traditional Vietnamese folk music sounds using instruments such as traditional lutes and strings. She currently is promoting it on stage touring in the whole country, appearing more than ever as a leading figure of contemporay Vietnamese music.

 

More informations:

 

Magali An Berthon is a French Vietnamese textile designer and editor based in Paris. Graduate of the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris, she has gathered a valuable experience as a textile designer for fashion and home collections.  She finds inspiration in her many travels especially in South-East Asia and has developed a deep interest for ethnic arts & crafts, natural fabrics and dyes. In parallel, she works as a writer and documentarist specialized particularly on textile know-how from all over the world. 

 

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Insight on the development of Ties That Bind: Asia Europe Film Producers Workshophttp://culture360.asef.org/magazine/insight-on-the-development-of-ties-that-bind-asia-europe-film-producers-workshop/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=insight-on-the-development-of-ties-that-bind-asia-europe-film-producers-workshop http://culture360.asef.org/magazine/insight-on-the-development-of-ties-that-bind-asia-europe-film-producers-workshop/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 03:10:00 +0000 Sasiwimon Wongjarin http://culture360.asef.org/?p=43512

ASEF would like to congratulate Ties That Bind: Asia Europe Film Producers Workshop (TTB), a project selected under ASEF’s Creative Encounters (3rd edition) in 2014, on receiving support from...  Read More

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Ties That Bind: Asia Europe Film Producers Workshop, Phase One, Udine, Italy, between 29 April 2014 - 3 May 2014

Ties That Bind: Asia Europe Film Producers Workshop, Phase One, Udine, Italy, between 29 April 2014 – 3 May 2014

ASEF would like to congratulate Ties That Bind: Asia Europe Film Producers Workshop (TTB), a project selected under ASEF’s Creative Encounters (3rd edition) in 2014, on receiving support from Creative Europe, the European Commission’s financial support programme for the creative, cultural and audiovisual sectors in Europe. The new programme which will run until 2020, unites the previous MEDIA and Culture programmes under a single banner. TTB is the only project which was previously funded by the former programme MEDIA Mundus to receive funding in this transition year.

Ties That Bind was organised alongside the 16th Far East Film Festival in Udine, between 29 April – 3 May 2014. The 5-day workshop was attended by 22 selected producers and industry experts from 15 different ASEM countries. Ties That Bind is organised by the FVG Audiovisual Fund (Italy), EAVE (Luxembourg), Far East Film Festival (Italy), Busan International Film Festival/Asian Film Market (South Korea). The workshop is supported by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), Arts Network Asia (ANA), Trans Europe Halles and Creative Europe.

ASEF’s support to Ties That Bind respond to one of the recommendations during the 6th ASEF Experts’ Meeting & Public Forum: Creative Economy in Asia and Europe – Emerging Pillar of Economic Growth & Development, which took place in Hanoi, Viet Nam on 4-5 December 2013. The meeting suggested potential area of Asia-Europe collaboration and focused on co-production and mediating curatorial initiatives.

“Co-production and co-creation must be widely advocated and actively supported. This is premised on supply and value chains being inherently global, in addition to the mobile nature of the modern society and workforces. The mobility of cultural professionals must be strengthened and reciprocal exchange emphasised upon. Digital technologies may also be harnessed to facilitate co-creation. Mediating curatorial initiatives must be encouraged to support cultural products that suffer from poor accessibility to markets.”

Alessandro Gropplero, Project Coordinator, Public Relations of the Friuli Venezia Giulia Audiovisual Fund shared a Report of Ties That Bind. The next step TTB is to organise a gathering of all former participants in Cannes, to introduce the new participants and enrich the network with its decision makers.

Justin Deimen from Singapore, one of the participants from Asia and Europe that participated in this year TTB’s edition also shared his inside perspective.

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The National Gallery Singapore | A conversation with Low Sze Weehttp://culture360.asef.org/magazine/a-conversation-with-low-sze-wee-about-the-new-national-gallery-singapore/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-conversation-with-low-sze-wee-about-the-new-national-gallery-singapore http://culture360.asef.org/magazine/a-conversation-with-low-sze-wee-about-the-new-national-gallery-singapore/#comments Thu, 14 Aug 2014 04:16:40 +0000 Bharti Lalwani http://culture360.asef.org/?p=43312

Low Sze Wee is the Director of the Curatorial and Collections department at the National Gallery Singapore (NGS) which is scheduled to open in 2015. Low began his journey...  Read More

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Low Sze Wee is the Director of the Curatorial and Collections department at the National Gallery Singapore (NGS) which is scheduled to open in 2015. Low began his journey as an assistant curator for the Singapore Art Museum (SAM) in 2001, then becoming the deputy director of the curatorial and collections department. In 2009, he joined the Gallery in the early stages of its conception and continued building up the museum’s collection while overseeing its curatorial development.

The Gallery will focus on displaying Southeast Asian art, with a special emphasis on Singaporean art, from the 19th century to present day. The National Heritage Board (NHB) of Singapore is a custodian of more than 10,000 works of art from the region, and this collection will be a primary focus at the Gallery. The Gallery occupies two important heritage buildings symbolic of Singapore’s nationhood, the City Hall and the former Supreme Court buildings. At a total gross floor area of approximately 64,000 square metres, it will be the largest visual arts institution in Singapore, matching established museums such as Musée d’Orsay (France) and Tate Modern (UK) in size.

Art Critic Bharti Lalwani finds out more about the curatorial direction of the new Gallery.

 

(Key- Low Sze Wee: LSW,   Bharti Lalwani: BL)

BL:  Sze Wee, before I ask about your role, I’m curious to know how you became active in the Singapore art scene. I gather that you were a lawyer but you went on to SOAS in London?

LSW: When I started working as a litigation lawyer in 1996, it was also the year when SAM opened and started training its local volunteer museum guides. I was part of that inaugural batch and grew to love bringing visitors around SAM’s exhibitions and sharing my passion for art with them. After two years of guiding on weekends, I became more familiar with the local art scene and came to realise that a career in the arts was a viable option! And for me, it became increasingly clear that job satisfaction mattered more than financial rewards. Hence, I decided to opt for a career change in 1998, and headed to London to further my studies in art history at SOAS (School of Oriental and Africa Studies).

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BL: How has your role expanded over the years- Before joining the Gallery you were overseeing the curatorial and collections department at SAM, how is your current role different? What are your responsibilities?

LSW: I first started as an assistant curator at SAM in 2001. It was a steep learning curve, as I had to learn, on the job, how to put an exhibition together – an always-challenging balance of art historical research, audience engagement, relationship-building and project management. Over the years, as I was given more responsibilities in managing the curatorial and collections department at SAM, I gradually understood what it meant to curate exhibitions and build up a collection in a national museum, and how such a museum operates within the local context. In my current role at the Gallery, my job is more akin to that of a start-up. All of us at the Gallery now have the exciting opportunity to set up a new museum from scratch – in terms of developing policies, building our teams, and more importantly, coming up with a new vision for what Singapore’s visual arts landscape could look like in the future.

 

BL: Last year you were named one of the Fellows for the Clore Leadership Programme, making you the first Singaporean to be selected in the prestigious program’s 10-year history. What does this training entail in terms of running the NGS?

LSW: This is a programme that aims to shape aspiring leaders from across the creative and cultural sector   through in-depth learning. These are tailored to the needs, aspirations and circumstances of the individual fellows, comprising residential courses, an extended placement, individually-selected training, mentoring and coaching. When I was in London, I had the opportunity to gain a better understanding of how various national art museums operate and their thought-processes. Whilst their circumstances are quite different from Singapore’s, it was reassuring to know that some of the challenges they face are not so different from ours! More importantly, it also provided a platform to forge deeper relationships and networks that could hopefully lead to fruitful collaborations in the future.

 

BL: So what are the challenges facing NGS?

LSW: As there is a need to build knowledge about Singapore and Southeast Asian art, and grow new audiences through our programmes, the challenge is for our exhibitions to be underpinned by strong research and intellectual rigour, and yet remain engaging and accessible at the same time.  This ties in with the Gallery’s aim to be a leading visual arts institution that inspires and engages our audiences with the art of Singapore, Southeast Asia and the world.

Some spaces within the Gallery are designed for interactivity and engagement with art.  For instance, the Keppel Centre for Art Education is a unique space specially designed and programmed for school children and families.  It will provide fun, multi-sensory learning opportunities for children of all ages.

Special programming spaces will also be opened throughout the day.  Visitors can enjoy talks and seminars on art-related topics, workshops, art demonstrations, film screenings, art appreciation classes, and many more exciting activities.

 

BL: The Gallery’s website states that they will focus on displaying art “from the 19th century to present day”. Does this mean the museum doubles as an exhibition venue for Modern and Contemporary art?

LSW: The Gallery will have a number of exhibition spaces. We will have the Singapore and Southeast Asian Galleries – these are two spaces which will have long-term displays of Singapore and Southeast Asian works, drawn primarily from the national collection. These works will be from the 19th century to present day, as the aim of these two galleries is to present the art histories of this region.  In addition to these two galleries, we will also have galleries for short-term special exhibitions. For these special exhibitions, we hope to present a balanced mix of shows on Singapore, Southeast Asian and international art. In terms of time period, we are open to the possibilities of presenting art from across time, particularly if meaningful connections can be drawn to the artistic practices and audiences of the region.

 

BL: Showcasing Singapore, Southeast Asian and international art overlaps with the aims of National Museum and SAM. How would NGS distinguish its programming?

LSW: National Gallery Singapore is about the art histories of Singapore and Southeast Asia. Through our exhibitions and programmes, we aim to historicize the development of art in Singapore and Southeast Asia from the 19th century to the present day. Through our research and long-term exhibitions, we aim to present the art histories of Singapore and Southeast Asia, based on existing scholarship and understanding of how modern art in Singapore and Southeast Asia emerged and developed. We also aim to reflexively (re)write the art histories of Singapore and Southeast Asia through our research programmes and publications. Lastly, through our increased understanding of the art history of Singapore and Southeast Asia, we aim to examine the role of Southeast Asia within the global historical development of art through special exhibitions.

While the Gallery focuses on the art of Singapore and Southeast Asia from the 19th century to the present, the Singapore Art Museum focuses on contemporary art. Both museums will complement each other and work closely together in making Singapore a vibrant arts hub.

 

BL: Going in to the formation of NGS early on, was there a curatorial framework which guided the architect’s oeuvre in creating a space for a Southeast Asian collection?

LSW: There was constant dialogue between the curators and the architect because the latter needed to understand how the spaces would be used in the future. However, the architect also understood that there would be many ways to curate exhibitions, and art and scholarship would continue to evolve over time. Hence, it was also important that the spaces be flexible enough to cater to such future developments.

 

BL: At a NHB organized conference in 2011, ‘Making a great art museum: Contending with Southeast Asian modernities and art’, one of the speakers, playwright Huzir Sulaiman, amusingly said something to the effect of ‘Don’t allow the museum to be used as a tool for State propaganda’.

The NHB collection has been built through funding from the Ministry, so can one expect to see the full range of more provocative art from Singapore and the rest of Southeast Asia made pre and post war? Can one expect to see woodcuts, political cartoons or social realist artworks made during Japanese occupation and art made during the cold war- i.e. Works made by artists that do not conveniently suit State agenda? After all, Art is about free expression.

 

LSW: National Gallery aims to present the art histories of Singapore and Southeast Asia. So, we will be showing works which are of art historical significance, including the social realist woodcuts made by Singapore artists in the 1950s. We hope that the local visual arts ecosystem will eventually be a multi-faceted one, where public museums, private museums, non-profit spaces, educational institutions and commercial galleries will each play specific but complementary roles, both in terms of collecting and research.

 

“we will be showing works which are of art historical significance, including the social realist woodcuts made by Singapore artists in the 1950s.”

 

BL: At a recent public forum at an art fair in Singapore, you were on the panel with representatives of SAM, Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) and Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA). I had asked how each institution would help foster discourse and independent criticism. Speaking for NGS, you replied that the museum will have an archive that will be available to the public for reference.

I recall that in 2011 the NGS was extremely keen on acquiring Koh Nguang How’s exhaustive archive, a significant section of which featured at the Singapore Biennale that year (30 years of art reportage in local news). But according to Koh, NGS dropped the plan citing budgetary constraints for new acquisitions. 

 So, my question is two-fold. Firstly, if not Koh’s extensive archives, how does the museum plan to build its own archival centre?

Secondly, looking at the amount spent on the refurbishment of the two heritage buildings, at the time I was surprised to hear about budgetary constraints for acquisitions. A press release dated in December 2010 announced that refurbishment of the two heritage buildings is estimated around SGD 530 million. Is more money being spent on the exterior when it is the core collection that should ultimately matter?

However, now that DBS has donated SGD 25 million “which will be matched dollar for dollar by the government from the Cultural Donation Matching Fund” according to one news report, can we expect an inspiring collection-curation and programming?  

 

LSW: For confidentiality reasons, we would not be able to discuss specific acquisition details. For our resource centre, we hope to work collaboratively with artists, artists’ families and researchers to collate archival materials that would be useful for future researchers. Koh Nguang How’s archive is significant, and we are interested to see how we could work with Koh to help make that available to the public. In terms of art acquisitions, this is an on-going exercise for all NHB museums. The national art collection has been built up over the past few decades, and we now have a collection of about 10,000 works from Singapore and Southeast Asia. We already have a number of historically significant art pieces, and we look forward to acquire, through our own resources as well as through artwork donations, other important works to complement the existing collection.

 

 ”For our resource centre, we hope to work collaboratively with artists, artists’ families and researchers to collate archival materials that would be useful for future researchers.”

About National Gallery Singapore

Bharti Lalwani is an art critic who contributes to The Art Newspaper, Harper’s Bazaar Art Arabia, Eyeline (Australia), among others. Her research interests include Private museums as well as contemporary art from Southeast Asia, the Middle-East and West Africa. Through her writing and research she connects the emerging contemporary art histories of three continents. In 2014, she was nominated Forbes Art Writer of the Year (India).

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Phare Ponleu Selpak : light of the arts | Cambodiahttp://culture360.asef.org/magazine/phare-ponleu-selpak-light-of-the-arts-cambodia/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=phare-ponleu-selpak-light-of-the-arts-cambodia http://culture360.asef.org/magazine/phare-ponleu-selpak-light-of-the-arts-cambodia/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 04:08:26 +0000 Magali An Berthon http://culture360.asef.org/?p=42499

Magali An shares the story of an inspiring non-profit organization based in Cambodia which provides educational support and artistic activities to socially vulnerable children and young adults.  Read More

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In 2014, ASEF culture360 invites a number of special correspondents to get an insight on issues that are highly discussed in the cultural sector across Asia and Europe.

Magali An Berthon, will explore arts, crafts and design topics focusing on Southeast Asia and France. Through a number of in-depth articles and interviews, she will attempt to portray creative profiles emerging from a new young generation of artists and designers without borders. She will also focus on inspiring initiatives renewing and promoting local crafts and traditions.

In this third article, Magali An shares the story of an inspiring non-profit organization based in Cambodia called Phare Ponleu Selpak, located near Battambang city. The association provides educational support and artistic activities to socially vulnerable children and young adults and has reached a worldwide recognition with its circus school.

 

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Establishing peace and cultural development through the arts and youth is the main goal of the Phare Ponleu Selpak association, a remarkable initiative that uses cultural identity as its essential milestone.

For more than twenty years, Cambodia has been shaken by a dramatic civil war which has deeply damaged their culture in all sections of society, damaging the most vulnerable populations and the younger generations in particular.

 

A STORY THAT STARTED IN THE REFUGEE CAMP

It all began in 1986 at a Cambodian refugee camp located near the Thai border, where young children were invited to participate in art workshops to express themselves and maintain a connection with their Khmer identity. Inspired by the positive action there, nine former refugees, Srey Bandaul, Tor Vutha, Khuon Det, Lon Lor, Chea Yoa, Svay Sareth, Chan Vuttouk, Dy Mala and Rin Nak, along with their French drawing teacher Veronique Decrop, decided to return to Cambodia. They were determined to create a project that would help the children overcome the trauma of civil war.

They chose to purchase a land in the Anh Chanh village near Battambang city. They selected this poor rural area because of the many landless families who were settling there again, following repatriation from the refugee camps.

 

THE BRIGHTNESS OF THE ARTS

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The committed young people immediately started the construction of their first building and they eventually founded the Phare Ponleu Selpak organization in 1994, where they first offered drawing classes for children. Phare Ponleu Selpak means “the brightness of the arts”, with the khmer words « Ponleu » for « light » and « Selpak » for « art », picked to express how the light of art would overcome the darkness of war.

The association has since expanded, having developed a specific approach to meet the needs of fragile children, young adults and families through three intervention and activity sectors: social and community actions, educational arts and cultural programmes which promote the Cambodian culture.

Nowadays Phare Ponleu Selpak follows an ambitious plan, welcoming on its site more than 1,400 children, adolescents and young adults daily. In 18 years of existence, the organization’s center has grown into a considerable campus providing a visual arts school and a performing arts training center, a child development unit, a public school and a library area.

 

A WORLD RECOGNIZED CIRCUS SCHOOL

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The organization’s members strongly believe that art can be a force behind social change, as it would give street children a purpose and the opportunity to get out of poverty. Recognized for the quality of the teaching and the high artistic and technical level, Phare Ponleu Selpak’s circus school is seen as one of their biggest achievements. This institution was founded in October 1998 on the impulse of Khuon Det, one of the founders who had a solid experience in martial arts and gymnastics.

Khuon Det followed a training programme at the National Circus School of the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh and he came back to Anh Chanh with three teachers who stayed at the center for several months to contribute to the setting up of the future school. This valuable partnership is still on-going until now, one to three teachers from the National School are sent to Battambang to give master classes two times a year. The young students receive high-quality training in many disciplines such as acrobatics, juggling, clowning, balancing and dancing to obtain a complete education in circus arts.

The circus school receives 120 young Cambodians each day and currently hosts three different troupes, the most experienced students have joining the first circus troupe. Since 2002, the company has been performing very regularly, not only in Cambodia but also touring worldwide, receiving critical acclaim and international recognition. It is a great opportunity for the young artists to promote their talent and earn a regular income. They are paid for each performance and are given the chance to make their first steps as professional circus artists, showcasing the full extent of their skills.

Read more about Phare Ponleu Selpak:
http://www.phareps.org/

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Cultural Mobility Series II | Interview with Marta Gracia | Art Motilehttp://culture360.asef.org/magazine/cultural-mobility-series-ii-interview-with-marta-gracia-art-motile/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=cultural-mobility-series-ii-interview-with-marta-gracia-art-motile http://culture360.asef.org/magazine/cultural-mobility-series-ii-interview-with-marta-gracia-art-motile/#comments Sun, 22 Jun 2014 22:00:26 +0000 Herman Bashiron Mendolicchio http://culture360.asef.org/?p=42066

In this second article, Herman interviews Marta Gracia, Director of Art Motile, to discuss about resources available for Spanish artist in residency programmes.  Read More

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Art Motile Logo

 

 

In 2014, culture360 invites a number of special correspondents to get an insight on issues that are highly discussed in the cultural sector across Asia and Europe.

Herman Bashiron Mendolicchio, will explore the concept of cultural mobility, focusing on the European region in particular. Through a number of in-depth articles and interviews, he will attempt to identify the concept of cultural mobility, its perception from the point of view of the funding bodies and the artists and practitioners who are seeking the funding. He will also look at how some countries such as Malta and Greece are integrating the concept of cultural mobility in their national cultural policies.

In this second article, Herman interviews Marta Gracia, Director of Art Motile, to discuss about resources available for Spanish artist in residency programmes.

 

Marta Garcia, Director of Art Motile

Marta Gracia, Director of Art Motile

 

The phenomenon of artist residencies represents a substantial part of the growing issue of cultural mobility. Residency spaces are multiplying everywhere and are providing countless varieties of models that allow artists and cultural practitioners to widen their experience, to connect with new people, places and dimensions and to relate their creative activities to diverse and specific fields. In order to identify, research and analyse the significant variety of models – each with their own specific goals, ambitions and visions – the efforts of several organisations working with these issues locally and globally is proving to be indispensable. Art Motile is one of those organisations focusing their activities on several issues related to residencies and artistic mobility. Based in Barcelona, Spain, Art Motile is focused mainly on developing resources on Spanish artist in residency programmes, while at the same time maintaining involvement in international activities in collaboration with other platforms and networks. I have to thank Marta Gracia, Director of Art Motile, for her answers in this interview and for the numerousmeetings and conversations we had on issues related to mobility and residency programmes.

 

Could you please introduce “Art Motile”, and tell us about its main aims and activities?

Art Motile is an organisation based in Barcelona that investigates and provides information on Spanish residency programmes for artists and other issues related to artist mobility. We do this by developing online resources (including a database of residencies, news on calls and opportunities, etc.), giving workshops and presentations, as well as offering advice to both artists and residency programmes. In addition, we develop projects in collaboration with other national and international organisations in order to bring new perspectives to the international phenomenon of artist residencies and mobility.

 

Talk at the Central House of Artists, Moscow, September 2011

Talk at the Central House of Artists, Moscow, September 2011

 

The phenomenon of artist in residency programmes and cultural mobility is increasing worldwide. What is the specific situation in Spain?

In Spain we are also experiencing an increase in the number of residency programmes for artists, in addition to the increasing mobility of Spanish artists and cultural agents.

In recent years, many residencies have emerged and they are mainly independent and self-managed initiatives. I think this trend can be seen across the entire Spanish art and cultural sector and is a result of, among other things, the gradual break-up of cultural public policies. New initiatives are usually driven by artists or other agents or cultural groups who see a residency as a totally flexible format that can be adapted to their specific needs, as well as a perfect formula for creating a space for sharing and collaboration.

Examples of self-managed, independent initiatives located in different regions of Spain include: La Fragua (2010) in Belalcázar (Andalusia); Alga Lab (2008) in Valadares (Galicia); Espacio Islandia (2012) in Madrid (Comunidad de Madrid); BAR Project (2013) in Barcelona (Catalonia); and PACA (Proyectos Artísticos Casa Antonino) (2014) in Trubia (Asturias).  These residencies illustrate the diversity of content in the programmes currently operating in Spain, and their different approaches to operating as residencies.

With regards to artistic mobility, Spanish artists are more frequently moving around and are no longer working in a single geographical context. This is a trend that is also occurring worldwide. Although mobility is in many senses positive, one of its most controversial aspects is that the increasing trend of mobility is not an option but an obligation.

It is becoming increasingly more difficult to pursue a career as an artist without international experience or without travelling or frequently doing some residencies abroad. Furthermore, in the case of Spain, there are still very few programmes that fund and facilitate artistic mobility under appropriate conditions, something which would contribute to making the sector less precarious. Support for mobility within Spanish territory remains an unresolved issue.

 

Among the services your platform offers, you give advice to artists and residencies about several aspects related to mobility projects. What should artists and residency spaces take into account before joining or starting an AIR programme in Spain?

 

Conference on Artist Mobility organised by Art Motile. MAC, A Coruña, Spain, 2013

Conference on Artist Mobility organised by Art Motile. MAC, A Coruña, Spain, 2013

In both cases, the most important thing to consider is motivation. Being    clear about the motivation that leads an artist to do a residency would help that same artist in setting and prioritising criteria, which in turn would make the search for and selection of a residency programme easier. At the same time, the more aligned the motivations of the artist are with what the chosen residency programme offers, the more likely it will be that their application will fit with the programme and, once there, the artist can take full advantage of their stay.

For residencies, knowing clearly what the motivation is for starting the programme and what the goals of the project are will allow them to find the appropriate formulas for developing the project. There is no residency model that is more valid than another. Everything depends on how consistently the project is implemented. Therefore having clear aims and goals is vital.

 

How do you organise your AIR database? How do you get in touch with all of the AIR programmes in Spain?

 

Art Motile’s database began in 2009 thanks to a research grant from the Council for Culture and Arts of Catalonia. The research project was titled “The situation of residency programmes for artists in Spain” and included as a starting point the identification of 27 artistic residencies throughout Spain. Those 27 residencies were the initial entries in Art Motile’s database, which has since expanded to the 48 entries we have today. The extension of the database was realised either by invitation (where we contact the residencies) or when the residencies contact us. Either way, we always try to find out as much as possible about the residency programmes and try to keep the database as complete as possible to meet the different needs, artist profiles and types of artistic work.

 

There are several AIR models and strategies. Which are the main current approaches and what is the balance in terms of public and private initiatives?

There are many models of residencies and each one responds to both the context in which the programme is situated as well as their individual motivations and goals. Currently in Spain, due to the situation of cultural policies and the economy, models and strategies are becoming increasingly more diversified.

There are private, non-profit initiatives that offer workspaces and free accommodation, motivated by the exchange and collaborations that arise between the resident artists and organisers of the initiative. This is the case with, for example, the Werner Thöni Art Space in Barcelona.

Other private initiatives that aim to support artistic production and research, combine granted residencies with residencies financed by the artists themselves through scholarship programmes or the artists’ own means and resources. This would be the case of, for example, ZAWPLab in Bilbao or Hangar and Homesession, both in Barcelona. In the case of public initiatives, it is much more common to find programmes fully funded by other public institutions such as El Ranchito in Matadero Madrid and its alliance with the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID); or through collaboration between a public entity and a private company, as in the case of the research residency grants offered by the Reina Sofia Museum (Madrid), which has the support of the  Banco Santander Foundation. This are only a few examples of the models and financing strategies of some residency programmes in Spain without going too much into detail; the reality is that the sector is quite broad and heterogeneous.

Workshop at Transartists, Amsterdam, June 2011

Workshop at Transartists, Amsterdam, June 2011

Is there any public funding in Spain for AIR programmes?

At Art Motile we don’t know of any public funding programme specifically for residencies. There are however some public institutions that fund exchange programmes between Spanish and foreign residencies, as is the case of Acción Cultural Española, and some private initiatives that promote the exchange of artists with other countries, such as SingCat (an exchange of artists between Catalonia and Singapore), or Jiser (an exchange of artists between Barcelona and Tunisia).

There are also some public institutions that promote the mobility of artists from specific regions of Spain, such as the Institut Ramon Llull for artists residing in Catalonia; the Scholarships Habitat Artístic Castelló – Abroad for artists living in Castellón; the Etxepare Basque Institute for artists residing in the Basque Country; or the mobility programme PICE of Spanish Cultural Action for resident artists of any autonomous community in Spain.

 

Beyond Spain, Art Motile is also developing projects and research internationally. Could you tell me more about your international activities?

The work of Art Motile wouldn’t make sense if it were not based on coordination, networking and complementarity with other platforms for information and research on issues of mobility and residencies. That’s why the organisation has worked since its inception in collaboration with TransArtists since its inception, and we are also in contact with and occasionally collaborate with Res Artis. In the Spanish context, Art Motile is also in contact with initiatives, organisations and networks working in fields related to residencies and artistic mobility such as Xarxaprod, the Network of Creative and Production Spaces in Catalonia and the Trans-Iberian Network of Independent Cultural Spaces.

 

Talking about the connection between art, ecology and sustainability: could you tell me what is your vision regarding these issues and what is your contribution to the GALA (Green Art Lab Alliances) project?

GALA is a European project about artistic mobility and sustainability that involves 20 European organisations with the aim of creating a European network of individuals and organisations dedicated to combining, through various actions, artistic mobility and environmental sustainability. Art Motile participated in the project with the organisation of a workshop on how artist mobility programmes and residencies can contribute to environmental sustainability. The workshop took place within the framework of a conference that Art Motile organised at the Museum of Contemporary Art Gas Natural Fenosa (A Coruña) in November last year.

 

What are your next steps both in Spain and at an international level?

Our medium-term priorities are: a) to improve the quality of our services and content (our database, online news and advice service); b) to continue generating activities that serve as meeting and exchange spaces between all stakeholders in the field of artistic mobility (artists, residencies, networks, platforms and policy makers); c) to continue developing and strengthening our work with other platforms and agents; d) to actively contribute to the generation of new content and relations in the field of residencies and artistic mobility by developing new projects with other organisations; e) to initiate concrete action in the field of public cultural policies related to artist residencies and other issues related to artistic mobility.

A.I.R. Array, 2012

 

Useful links:

 

Herman Bashiron Mendolicchio holds a European PhD in “Art History, Theory and Criticism” from the University of Barcelona. His current lines of investigation involve the subjects of intercultural processes, globalization and mobility in contemporary art and cultural policies, the interactions between artistic, educational, media and cultural practices in the Mediterranean and the cultural cooperation between Asia and Europe. He has participated in several international conferences and developed projects and research residencies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. As an art critic and independent curator he writes extensively for several international magazines. He is special correspondent for ASEF’s portal www.culture360.asef.org

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Lisa Mam | Connecting the dotshttp://culture360.asef.org/magazine/lisa-mam-connecting-the-dots/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=lisa-mam-connecting-the-dots http://culture360.asef.org/magazine/lisa-mam-connecting-the-dots/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 03:11:37 +0000 Magali An Berthon http://culture360.asef.org/?p=42045

Magali An has interviewed a young artist whose unique artwork has blossomed on the walls of South East Asia from Phnom Penh Cambodia to Bangkok Thailand. Considered as the first female street artist in Cambodia, Lisa Mam appears as a pioneer in her country which was long considered as the cultural "Pearl of Asia" before the civil war.  Read More

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Lisa collage

In 2014, culture360.org invites a number of special correspondents to get an insight on issues that are highly discussed in the cultural sector across Asia and Europe.

Magali An Berthon, will explore arts, crafts and design topics focusing on Southeast Asia and France. Through a number of in-depth articles and interviews, she will attempt to portray creative profiles emerging from a new young generation of artists and designers without borders. She will also focus on inspiring initiatives renewing and promoting local crafts and traditions. 

In this second article, Magali An has interviewed a young artist whose unique artwork has blossomed on the walls of South East Asia from Phnom Penh Cambodia to Bangkok Thailand. Considered as the first female street artist in Cambodia, Lisa Mam appears as a pioneer in her country which was long considered as the cultural “Pearl of Asia” before the civil war. Though her art, she is encouraging a young khmer generation to take pride again in their culture and find their own voice. 

LISAPARIS1

Cambodia is evolving fast, with a dynamic youth hoping to forget about the wounds from the Khmer Rouge and to renew their national pride. Lisa Mam aka « Lil Dots », a young urban artist coming from Phnom Penh, appears as the perfect embodiment of this new energy. As the first official female street artist in Cambodia, she has been perfecting her unique style since 2010 and has been featured in several collaborative exhibitions throughout South East Asia.

Considered as a rising star in Khmer urban art, she is the image of her generation: leaving their fears behind, eager to build bridges between East and West and dedicated to bringing their country into modernity.

 

Who are you as Lisa Mam and how did you embark on your artistic journey?

My name is Lisa Mam, I am 24 years old. I was born and raised in Cambodia and I live in Phnom Penh. I started drawing and sketching at a very young age, around 6 years old if I remember correctly. I must say that I had some natural talent at it but it was not so easy for me to choose this path. My parents did not really believe in my calling and they pushed me to drop it and encouraged me to focus on my studies. After that I stopped practicing my art for a really long time.

I then started drawing again as teenager. At the age of 21, I met Peap Tarr in Phnom Penh through friends. He is a renowned half New-Zealander half Cambodian street artist with valuable experience in the international street art scene. When I saw his work and how he was painting, I felt a real connection with my art. There were some striking similarities with my own style. This encounter gave me a lot of hope and it inspired me to continue to paint and to push it further. Since then, Peap Tarr and I keep collaborating together.

People started to notice me when I was painting in the streets and it was really new in Phnom Penh, they had never seen such a thing. So this was very exciting to be a part of a new movement.

lisamam1

Does your country Cambodia inspires you in your art in any way ?

My work is definitely Cambodian. My culture really inspires me, it is unique and special. Cambodia is really a rich country artistically and culturally, especially when you see the splendour of ancient arts from the Angkor ages. It really inspires me and I try to make something different out of it, make it really my own style. I have looked a lot at the decorative elements on the Angkor temples near Siem Reap. For example, the Apsara dancing goddesses appearing as stone carved sculptures on the Angkor temples are strong symbols of femininity and women power and I regularly use these figures in my paintings.

The idea is to start from ancient art and culture and to turn it into something new which would fit with our modern society.

Peap Tarr and I are committed to creating a specific South East Asian style, along with other artists from Malaysia and Thailand. Street art and graffiti usually come from the United States and westernized countries, so there is much to do to build another visual style. We are also dedicated to sharing our passion for our culture and our country towards the younger generation, to encourage an art community to grow again in Cambodia.

lisa_paintLips

Could you describe a typical day at work?

Even though I feel that I am an artist, I am still studying and I really enjoy it. I am currently in my graduation year of dentistry studies. So in a typical day for me, I go to my Dental University in Phnom Penh during the day time for practice and then I will work on my painting at night. My work is getting more and more recognition so I have been commissioned to paint walls for certain hotels and institutions not only in Phnom Penh but also in Thailand in Bangkok. I get the opportunity to travel and dedicate myself full time to my art during these work sessions.

I don’t need much material to work, which is something that I appreciate. I only need brushes and acrylic colours. They are quite easy to use and speed up my painting process. I usually use bold and strong colours to get visually graphic effects: black, white, red, gold and silver are my favourite.

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How is street art considered in Cambodia? And what do you intend to express through your art?

I think that the urban culture in Cambodia is quite new and for a long time it was only the expatriates and visiting tourists who would paint in the streets. Now I feel that more and more local people like me. My partner Peap Tarr and another Cambodian graffiti artist called Tone are starting to draw attention from all the Khmer people when they discovered us painting in the streets and getting involved in an increasing number of artistic projects.

There is a great feeling of pride to be recognized as the first urban female artist in Cambodia because art is truly my passion. I feel very lucky for that. This is what I love to do with all my heart and soul.

My goal is to inspire the young Cambodian generation to develop their own sensibility and taste without copying from other cultures. It’s really important to cultivate your own identity. It helps other people realize where you come from and express who you really are.

I do not use art to deliver a political message. It is not my purpose. I would say that somehow my art is feminist, inspired by woman power. To me women represent love, compassion and peace and I would like the people who look at my artwork to experience a moment of bliss. The world needs peace. That’s my message!

 

Relevant links:

 

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