Naima Morelli

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Cambodia

5

This end of the year post has been a tradition for many years, and it’s for me one of the most pleasurable things to write. This one is pretty long, so gear up, or perhaps skip to the section which is of most interest to you.

Looking back at this 2018, I feel bursting with gratitude. I do what I have always wanted to do since I was a child, and I have a huge freedom which I don’t take for granted. For this stage in my life, I’m fully self-actualized, I’m embodying all of my passions. And each one of them leads me to new paths, new learning, new discovering journeys. This unfolding is a beautiful story to tell, and I feel my life is like an artwork. And I can appreciate its dynamism fully, its ups and downs, its clarity and its drama, because I know it’s ultimately all a play. The comedy of life.

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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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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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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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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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VannNath1

I’m honored and humbled to have had the chance of writing about the work of an extraordinary artist and human being such as Cambodian painter Vann Nath. The piece is out in the new issue of Art Republik and is part of the Cambodia reportage I realized in February. This is the fifth piece about Cambodian art I did for the magazine, and I’m so happy to have these beautiful pages as an outlet for the research.

In the article, which I wrote in conjunction of the publication in Italy of Vann Nath’s memoir by ADD Editore “Il pittore dei khmer rossi”, I traced the legacy of this artist on Cambodian contemporary art, and how his example and practice influenced the new generations of artists in the Kingdom.

Here is the link to the pdf version of the piece

 

VannNath2

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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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stilness3
Back with some updates from my life. There is noting better than a warm, sleepy Saturday morning without super-urgent deadlines for articles, to stop for a second and ponder and reflect on the amazing ride I have been on since the beginning of the year. Basically, a moment of quiet to park the horse and smell the roses. I feel this is somewhat necessary to have a clearer picture of my narrative, because of course it’s a story, but we humans need to make sense of things, and it’s fun, and my heart longs for it! I feel that when I’m talking with friends I tend to focus on the problems, maybe because I have identify them as the alley to let it all out. But my public writing, whether for these occasional rants or even in my articles, is really the place where I feel compelled to look at beauty, while not shying away from complexity. I feel it’s my wiser self talking, and I’m happy to get raw and vulnerable. Well, most of the times!

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MetaMoeng
Here we go with a new article from my Cambodia reportage; it’s so great to see all the fruits from my research coming out little by little and share all this beauty – this time through the web platform Culture360 which is all about creating trans-continental connections.

And I’m super grateful to have met art manager and Kon Len Khnhom founder Met Moeng during my trip to Phnom Penh.  Coming from an art system where people don’t have to do things in the arts out of necessity, but more for individualistic reasons, it’s very heartening to see someone who daily embodies the word “service”. Through founding her own art space Kon Len Khnhom Meta really stretched herself beyond her limits, proving that it’s possible to do it if you are willing to let go of control and you are guided by sheer passion.

Coming into contact with her passion and determination was a real blast, and keeps on inspiring me!

Here is the link to the piece 

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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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