If a Cambodian were asked to pick one object that, to him, represents life in the country today, what would it be? If asked to express in a photo or small item his memories of the country’s tragic past or his dreams for his or Cambodia’s future, what would he come up with?
This is what German artists Horst Hoheisel and Sebastian Brandt are hoping to find out. The pair is inviting Cambodians to bring in such objects with brief texts explaining what they mean to them. Once collected, the objects will be assembled into an installation and exhibited at Meta House in Phnom Penh on Feb 12. Those who supply items will remain anonymous.
The items, Brandt said, “could be pictures, photos, small personal objects of memory, objects which belong essentially to daily life, objects which symbolize their dreams and fears, their unanswered questions—anything.”
The two artists first meant to focus on the Khmer Rouge legacy in today’s Cambodia—Hoheisel has worked extensively on the effects of Nazi Germany’s genocide on German society—but soon realized the topic is still difficult for Cambodians to address, Brandt said. There are plans to exhibit the installation in Germany soon, he said.
German photographer Arjay Stevens is also launching an invitation, this time to Cambodian artists, to produce artworks to be exhibited at Meta House along with his photos in mid-March.
Stevens, who is based in Phnom Penh, is asking artists to paint, cut or transform what he sees as an omnipresent example of globalization: the plastic chair.
“I saw it in Germany when I went home. I saw it in France. I saw it in Beijing. I even saw it right in front of Angkor Wat,” he said.
Meta House is making this “Universal Chair” project a contest with a small cash prize, and artists can get chairs to work on when they come to register, Meta House art manager Lydia Parusol said.
Cambodians wishing to take part in either project can go directly to Meta House on Street 264 or call 023-224-140.