Artists Raid Garbage for Sihanoukville Festival

If you thought little could be done with empty water bottles, plastic straws or soft drink cans, think again: one stroll through the Bhor All in Art cultural center in Si­hanoukville will prove you wrong.

To mark its Rubbish Festival, which begins Saturday night, the center’s three-story building has been turned into a “plastic jungle,” director Bob Passion said.

Every night between 5 pm and 8:30 pm until Nov 30, performing artists will escort people inside through a circuit of themed displays demonstrating what can be done with rubbish.

Artists set up all the displays out of the contents of garbage cans found no more than 500 meters from the center, Passion said.

“Be­tween 8 and 9 am, we toured gar­bage cans on motorcycle, collecting plastic bags, foam coffee cups and food containers—whatever had been discarded,” he said.

The artists’ message will be simple, said Meth Van Ry of Bohr: “We just want to say that everything in the world can be useful.”

It’s just a matter of using one’s imagination, he explained.

As the artists will point out, the stakes are high for Cambodia.

“‘Today, it’s green. Tomorrow, it’s plastic. How about the future: more plastic?’ This is what we will ask the audience,” he said.

The kick-off program Satur­day night will include a fashion show by nearly 30 Phnom Penh artists—from singers to photographers—headed by painter Leang Seckon. All the elaborate cocktail dresses, suits, costumes and headpieces will be made of rubbish.

“This is a good time to hold this festival,” said Leang Seckon.

After the Phnom Penh Water Festival last week, people went back to their homes in the countryside, throwing along the way those small plastic bags used for just about everything, he said. By making them aware of what they had just done, he said, “maybe they will remember and not do it next time they travel.”

The fashion show will take place on a large outdoor stage set up in front of the center.

In the festival’s closing show, Epic Arts Cambodia will present four performances that the NGO’s physically disabled artists recently created while working with British and Australian artists, production manager Hannah Stevens said. They will include a contemporary dance, a mime and short musical theater pieces and jazz, she said.

The festival is organized by the Bohr center in cooperation with the NGO M’Lop Tapang, which works with street children in Sihanoukville.

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