Naima Morelli

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DanaLanglois
It was February last year that I embarked on a month-long journey to Cambodia for a reportage on the local contemporary art scene. During that time on the field I realized 20 interviews in Siem Reap, Battambang and Phnom Penh, meet incredible people, and had the privilege to visit artist’s studio and local art spaces.

Among these, Java Arts in Phnom Penh is certainly one of the most important, and the name of its founder and director Dana Langlois was one of the first on my list of the must-interview. A powerhouse in her own right, Dana gave me her perspectives on the Cambodian art scene. CoBo has just published our conversation.

It took one year to publish most of the material, article by article, mostly on CoBo, but also on Culture360 and Art Republik. I love this methodology of work I have established, from gathering the seeds (aka researching on the field), sowing and watering (working on the material and reflecting on it throughout the year) and harvesting (seeing the pieces published on magazines.) It’s a thing of beauty, and I try to be present to each phase of this process. Hopefully, throughout this year I manage to share what I have learned about Cambodian contemporary art, and highlight what’s interesting with it.

And now to Dana’s interview on CoBo, hope you will enjoy it:

Here is the link to the interview

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VuthLyno

The developments for visual art in Cambodia are not well-known yet. At CoBo social a group of writers and I are trying to fill some gaps with articles and interviews to the protagonists of the scene.

Vuth Lyno is certainly one of the most prominent figure in the art system of the Kingdom. The director, curator, artist and art activist is a pivotal figure in the still small but growing Cambodian contemporary art scene – I have huge respect for him and was a real honour to speak with him during my trip in Phnom Penh.

Here is the link to the interview

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ThaiArtistsSpirit

My new article “5 Thai Artists that Connect Us to Spirituality” has just been published on CoBo Social. Some of you may know my new research scope is Thailand, and I’m planning to visit for a reportage in 2019. My previous long-form reportage have been Indonesia (2013), Australia (2014), Singapore (2015-2017) and Cambodia (2018).

So what form do these reportage take in our multimedia world of information and “liquid society” (to quote Zygmunt Bauman)? Well, the form must also be flexible. The bulk of the Indonesia research ended up in a book. My Australian reportage took the shape of a series of articles and an exhibition in Rome. The Cambodian material has also come out as articles. The Singapore research has also become a book which is the process of being published as a web-series, every Monday on this blog and on Medium. For Thailand, I’m planning to realize some videos as well. Will see how it unfolds.

To go back to “5 Thai Artists that Connect Us to Spirituality”; I love to write these kind of pieces because they allow me to look deeply into the practice of artists thematically, and then summarize the essence of their work in few paragraphs. I learn so much from doing this work, and I’m so happy to have the chance to share it with you guys!

Here is the link to the article

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cover2

Migration

Geographically small and without local resources, Singapore has historically based its entire survival on the presence of the sea as a strategic location to commerce. A city port and a global trading hot spot since the beginning, creating a good relationship with the region and projecting a reliable image has always been key. In shaping their identity, the Singaporeans couldn’t afford to be purely preoccupied by the way they perceive themselves, but also in the relationship they have with the outside world.

These two narratives are not parallel, but blend into each other. Singapore is a city in constant and rapid flux; his port is bustling with activity and the airport is almost a mandatory stop for fights to and from Asia. You would expect that in such a mobile space, “the local” and “the other” won’t look that different. However, those who aspire to become locals learn quickly that the papers granting Singaporean citizenship can’t really grant a inner sense of belonging to the individual and they don’t make the community accept you.

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manifestapalermo

Here is an art event where contemporary art don’t lose itself in mere theoretical speculations, but rather tackles important and timely issues. The 12th edition of the Biennale Manifesta called “The Planetary Garden: Cultivating Coexistence” (16 June to 4 November 2018, Palermo, Italy) examines through site-specific artworks the themes of migration and the environmental concerns of our times.

I spoke about it with founder Hedwig Fijen and creative mediator Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli for Culture360, the webmagazine of the Asia-Europe Foundation.

Here is the link to the piece

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NateeUtarit

“In the Forest of Fontainebleau, Natee remarried the world. He stepped away for a while from the human drama that is inherent in every social interaction and accessed a much slower, much quieter world, where he was not continuously bombarded by images and input from contemporary society. This allowed Natee to focus on the smaller folds of reality. It is similar to when you concentrate on subtle variations in your breathing while meditating. If you get to apply that same heightened attention to reality, everything around you transforms and takes the form of childlike wonder at the simplest things, like the sky, a sprinkle of light and the color of moss.”

In my new piece for CoBo, I have a conversation with Thai artist Natee Utarit about his new work for his show “Untitled Poems of Théodore Rousseau” at Tang Contemporary in Bangkok.

Here is the link to the interview

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VasanSitthiket
You might have guessed it; alongside Cambodia, my current research is expanding towards Thailand. I first had a glimpse of the depth of at the artists from this country in the 2015 exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, which looked at Southeast Asia. Then with the Thai focus at the last Art Stage Singapore I learned some more. I continued expanding my understanding thanks to some editing work of interviews to Thai curators and collectors. And now I’m glad to say I’m hooked!

Thanks to the wonderful curator Loredana Pazzini-Paracciani, who is a contemporary Thai art expert, I had the chance to meet Tawan Wattuya and Vasan Sitthiket in Rome. In this regards, it has been super-interesting to interview them and compare the work and perspectives of these two artists from different generations.

Here is my interview with Vasan for your friendly neighborhood magazine CoBo. I walked away from this chat with so many insights, and hopefully I managed to convey some of those to you dear reader!

Here is the link to the interview

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TawanWattuya

My interview with Thai artist Tawan Wattuya has just been published on the webmagazine CoBo. I met Tawan in Rome, on his way back from Taranto, South of Italy, where he had participated in a three-man show with Vasan Sitthiket and Tanasade Silaaphiwon.

Here is the link to the interview

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KhiangHei
Sometimes when I start an art exploration in a new country of Southeast Asia, I can be lucky enough to meet a figure which becomes a guide of sorts. This person usually helps me entangle the key mechanisms of the art system, and understand the psychology of local artists.

In Cambodia, this figure was Khiang Hei. In this interview published on CoBo, we tackled the most pressing issues together in the emerging Cambodian art scene. With an understanding of the local hardships, as well as a very pragmatic spirit, Khiang suggested possible solutions, some of which he has implemented himself over the years.

The piece is part of my reportage on Cambodian contemporary art.

Here is the link to the interview

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SophalNeak
In the third installment of CoBo’s series on Cambodian photographers, I spoke with artist Sophal Neak, a rising talent in the Cambodian scene. This piece is part of my reportage on Cambodian contemporary art.

Here is the link to the interview

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lovesharing

Migration is such an important topic for our times. I have recently explored it through an interview with Maria Virginia Siriu from the theater company Theatric, and organizer of “Love Sharing – Festival di teatro e cultura nonviolenta”, in Cagliari, Sardinia. The piece has just been published by the webmagazine Middle East Monitor.

Here is the link to the interview

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SopheapPich

At the beginning of the year I visited Cambodian artist Sopheap Pich in his Phnom Penh studio. He explained his view of contemporary art in Cambodia and what young artists need in order to grow the local art scene. The article is part of my reportage on Cambodian contemporary art.

Here is the link to the interview

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