A month long festival of architecture and design gets under way in Phnom Penh tomorrow, giving artists and performers an opportunity to celebrate the capital’s architectural heritage while charting the city’s development—and the toll it can take on those who live here.
“‘Our City’ is a project that I created as a platform…to create dialogues, to allow people to start talking about these subjects and to become participants in the development of their city,” said event organizer Dana Langlois of JavaArts.
Now in its third year, “Our City” brings together over 100 artists and collaborators for a series of exhibitions and events.
Many of the planned events explore the cost of urban development. “Hawker’s Song,” a two-part collaboration between artists from Cambodia and Australia, shows how street vendors’ lives are changing as the city grows. The work mixes video, music and sculpture to show how their livelihoods are disappearing.
“They take one of the bells from one of the ice-cream vendors and using it kind of as an alarm, a wake-up call,” said Ms Langlois, who co-produced “Hawker’s Song.”
Another exhibit that tackles a hot issue is “Life Along the Rails,” a collection of photographs by Conor Wall produced in partnership with local NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut.
With Cambodia’s railroads due to come into service soon, those living on the tracks face eviction, according to Nora Lindstrom, an adviser at STT.
“Unfortunately, relocation has not been very successful in Phnom Penh in the past…. [The photos are] partly to document the current life at the rails…and partly to raise awareness of the issue,” she said.
“Our City” 2010 kicks off tomorrow with a photo exhibit at Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center charting the city’s changing landscape over the past year. Other scheduled events include an open rehearsal of Sophiline Shapiro’s new dance piece “The Lives of Giants”—due to premiere in the US later this year—and a conference on the heyday of Khmer architectural design with renowned designer Khun Neay Khuon.
Full details can be found at www.javaarts.org/ourcity, which will be updated with reports, reviews and comments on all the events.