The White Building Turns Into an Open House Exhibition

Over the past three months, a group of young Cambodians living in the White Building or its vicinity have, under the guidance of photographer Lim Sokchanlina and artist Khvay Samnang, ex­plored new ways of expressing their lives.

In the course of creating artworks of all shapes and forms, they enrolled other residents from the White Building community on Sothearos Boulevard, asking them to provide materials such as empty bottles and other discarded objects so they could turn them into sculptures.

One student even brought a man­go to an art class to use as inspiration, Mr. Samnang said. “We had a lot of fun,” he added.

The result will be presented on Saturday at 6 p.m. at the “White Night,” an exhibition held at the White Building in the gallery of the NGO Sa Sa Art Projects as well as in its corridors and stairways. There will be photos, installations and works in mixed media.

This will represent these young people’s first attempt at art and photography, Mr. Samnang and Mr. Sokchanlina said. But they truly put all their hearts and energy into it, and some of them may actually want to get into these fields, Mr. Samnang and Mr. Sok­chanlina said.

Van Serey Ratanak, for in­stance, showed a real flair for photo composition: He produced a series on the White Building’s coffee shop, shooting customers relaxing with their drinks or playing chess and servers going about their daily tasks, Mr. Sok­chanlina said.

The classes were an initiative of Sa Sa Art Projects, the gallery of the artist group Stiev Selapak, and British musician David Gunn, who, with the British artist group Incidental, did a similar project with music in Phnom Penh. It is mainly supported by the British Embassy and Arts Network Asia.

By holding an exhibition as a kind of open house at the White Building, the students do not only want to show their work, said Vuth Lyno, director of Sa Sa Art. They are determined to prove that the White Building is actually a community with shops and mar­kets—all the features one finds in any Cambodian community, he said.

Erected in the early 1960s as low-cost apartments, the White Build­ing is now the home of nu­merous artists and other families on a limited income. Its residents are eager to change the bad reputation it has acquired, which makes some people afraid of even coming to the White Building, Mr. Lyno said.

A video shot by Japanese artist Masaru Iwai on the “cleaning day” he organized with White Building residents to spruce up the stairways will also be presented at the exhibition.




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