Cambodian Wins Major Contemporary Art Prize

A Cambodian has won the prestigious Sovereign Asian Art Prize, an award that recognizes contemporary Asian artists, for a 2012 installation in Phnom Penh, the Sovereign Art Foundation announced Friday.

Anida Yoeu Ali, a Cham Muslim who was born in Cambodia but was raised in the U.S. after fleeing the country following the fall of the Khmer Rouge, won the prize for ‘Spiral Alley,’ a piece of work from her ongoing ‘Buddhist Bug’ collection, which is a semi-autobiographical representation of her diverse background. 

On Friday, Ms. Yoeu Ali said the news of her win came as a surprise because recipients tend to come from the region’s more developed nations.

“I remember posting something on my Facebook page saying ‘Oh everybody by the way I’m nominated for this thing but they never give this to a Southeast Asian artist so I’m sure I’m not going to win but if you want to vote for me you can’ and now I’m totally eating my words,” she said.

Ms. Yoeu Ali, who is the first Cambodian to win the $30,000 prize in its 11-year history, will travel to Hong Kong for an awards ceremony on May 8.

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