Naima Morelli

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Tag "contemporary art"

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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Boedi Widjaja: the idea of place

What is a place? How do you feel connected to a place? Since moving from Singapore to Indonesia at age nine, artist Boedi Widjaja kept on asking himself these questions. My first encounter with Boedi Widjaja’s work happened in Rome. It was the day after the opening night of the 2012 Premio Celeste, an international prize dedicated to showcasing young talents from all countries. The building where the award ceremony happened was interesting in itself. A former power plant, the Centrale Montemartini was a unique example of industrial archaeology turned into a museum of classical statuary. The contrast couldn’t be any starker. Among the black steel levers, timers and dark machines, white marble statues emerged. The immaculate splendour of ancient Greek and Roman bust of Dyonisus and Apollo were juxtaposed to the steamy image of progress in the industrial age.

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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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 Writing history


When we were studying history in school as kids, we perceived it to be a fixed, unchangeable entity. “Only history will tell”, is still a common saying, which identifies history as the ultimate judge, operating with the fairest of methods. We see that mentality in art history as well. Van Gogh is your typical case in point of the neglected artist in his lifetime who History then recognised as one of the major artists of the 20th century. At the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome my professors used to see art history as a force opposed to the art market. Market success was described to us students as kind of a cheat. Conversely, history couldn’t care less about money and other such vileness. Apparently what history remembers are the true masterpieces of real artists, not certainly what’s up on the stock market. Good art is what will stand the test of time.
While I subscribe this view, I’m also aware that along the winds shaping the rocks of history, market forces are in the picture as well. Today more than ever. History is a re-reading of the past according to what the present values important and useful. The retelling of every story necessarily implies highlighting some elements and hiding others. It does that in a functional way. In this sense, we can consider the old saying, “History is written by the winners” has been true until the ‘80s came along and postmodernism challenged this notion.

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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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HouHanru

The webmagazine/collector’s platform CoBo has just published my interview with Hou Hanru, curator and artistic director of the contemporary art museum of Rome MAXXI. In the interview I have found Hanru not only to be a great inquirer of our times through art, but also a person of deep intelligence and kindness. All of that clearly transpires from the shows at the MAXXI, which is the channel for Rome to take part in the international dialogue for contemporary art.

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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Umi

The webmagazine and collector’s platform CoBo has just published my interview with artist Umibaizurah Mahir Ismail, who is known to pushing the boundaries of ceramic work in Malaysia.

Here is the link to the interview

 

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