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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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Fyerool Darma: destructing and reconstructing regional history

Fyerool Darma’s world is black and white, sleek and genuine; conceptual yet tied to the peculiarity of materials. If you were in Singapore at the beginning of 2017, you couldn’t help encountering his work everywhere – in very different sectors of the art world. At Art Stage Singapore 2017, he was part of the Yeo Workshop booth with his works ‘After Babelfish (of Shank series)’ and ‘Portrait No. 11 (Puan Saleha, Zaliha or Salihat)’. We saw him performing in the art space Objectifs for the collective show ‘Fantasy Islands’. And if that wasn’t enough, at the Singapore Biennale you can also encounter his work ‘The Most Mild Mannered Man’ – a bust of Sir Stamford Raffles and a bustless pedestal inscribed with the name of Sultan Hussein. His interest in bridging the memory-deprived Singapore of today with the wider history of the region and the many possible narratives that have shaped the island’s past, and continue to shape the island’s future.

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Ho Tzu Nyen: representing the global collective imaginary

There are artists who make objects, and are pretty damn good at their craft. Then there are artists whose production allow them to live and work in the art system. There are also artists whose work is autobiographical and very much tied to their lives. And finally, there are artists whose art is a direct continuation of their philosophical grasp on the world. Technique for them is an extension of their thought.

Singaporean artist Ho Tzu Nyen belongs to the latter category. In his first solo exhibition in Berlin at the gallery Michael Janssen called “No Man II”, he presented a new multimedia installation. This whimsical, interactive, compelling, yet mysterious work looks like a museum of popular imagination of the human figure. We can find here clichéd representation from pop culture, from American soldiers, to characters similar to the movie Tron, all the way to mythology.

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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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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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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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KanithaTith
Another interview with a super-interesting Khmer artist has been published on CoBo, as part of my reportage on contemporary art in Cambodia. For this piece I spoke with Kanitha Tith, one of the young, emerging voices in the artistic landscape, who is gaining more and more recognition internationally.

In the article she tell about her creative process and what it means to be a multi-passionate creative in Phnom Penh.

Here is the link to the interview

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SreyBandol
I can’t be more happy and grateful when I see a new article of mine on the homepage of CoBo Social. It still gives me the same buzz of 10 years ago, when I was just starting out writing for online magazines.

This interview with Srey Bandol, co-founder of the art school Phare Ponleu Selapak in Battambang, Cambodia, is particularly rewarding because it is a part of the reportage on Cambodian contemporary art I did at the beginning of the year. I really hope that through these articles CoBo and I will be able to give a more complete picture of the art scene in this fascinating country.

Here is the link to the interview

 

 

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museumsrome

I have just been back from Japan a couple of days ago,  and it has been great to find my essay on the state of contemporary art museums in Rome published on Culture360, the webmagazine of the Asia-Europe foundation.

The piece stems from my conversations with Hou Hanru and Giorgio de Finis, and takes into consideration the example of the ex-GNAM, La Galleria Nazionale directed by Cristiana Collu. While in the piece I take a bit of a critical tone, I hope that you can read through the lines my positive feeling for a scene in transformation.

Here is the link to the piece

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stephaniefong
To Stephanie Fong, founder and director of FOST Gallery in Singapore, the job of a gallerist is not just about selling the art, but rather providing an experience. With an uncontainable passion for culture, as well as an eye for the evolving trends worldwide, Stephanie has become a point of reference in the Lion City’s art scene.

I had the pleasure of talking with Stephanie for CoBo Social during my last visit to Singapore a couple of months ago, and I found he combination of strenght and grace – in both her personality and in the way she runs her business – incredibly inspiring:

“Why are you doing this?” She laughed and replied almost immediately: “I think at the core of it it’s what I’m meant to do. Now looking back at my journey, it all made sense, even though I hadn’t really planned it that way. Maybe it has been all about faith.”

Here is the link to the interview

 

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stievselapak

Little by little parts of my Cambodia research/reportage are coming out in the press: here is a piece on the Phnom Penh-based supergroup Stiev Selapak which has just been published on the Singapore-based art magazine Art Republik. Can’t wait to have the physical copy in my hands!

Here is the link to the article

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tengcollection

CoBo has published my review of the Teng Collection at Art Stage 2018. I was very happy to write about the first ever showcase of this outstanding collection, and compelled to learn and reflect on the ethos who is driving the collectors.

This piece actually came out last week but I didn’t post it immediately on the blog because in these past few days I have been busy running around Phnom Penh to collect interviews for my current reportage on Cambodian contemporary art. But here you go, you can read it at the link below.

Here is the link to the review

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