Hello and welcome to our travel/art blog, MADE IN CAMBODIA, as we take you on our amazing journey from Greenwich, CT to Cambodia and back again.
We are Debra Fram and Barbara Richards, friends and curators at the Flinn Gallery, and this blog shares our experiences in Cambodia as we curated the show:
PHNOM PENH – TUK-TUKS – ARTISTS!
Posted March 8, 2017
Phnom Penh is a chaotic city. Traffic is almost entirely tuk-tuks. The drivers seem to know what they are doing but they don’t have the same traffic rules that we know here. They work though. They got us all over the city relatively comfortably.
Our first visit was at JavaArts’ second cafe to see HENG Ravuth. Ravuth was there and we enjoyed seeing him and his artwork which is collaged portraits and figures. He takes a photo of himself, prints it multiple times, and then uses the tiny prints along with paint to create the self-portrait collages. We chose 3 paintings.
We traveled across town to the studio of LEANG Seckon who was finishing up artwork for an opening he was having at JavaArts in a few days. We came to see the largest piece that will be in OUR show. It is called Flowering Parachute Skirt. This is a 10 foot tall figure composed on the bottom by an American parachute that flows out on the floor. On the top is a military jacket with metals and belts, a coconut husk head with a helmet. It is quite impressive. We dressed his assistant in the garb to see how we would put it together back at the Flinn Gallery.
Next on our journey was meeting a potential new artist that we were not familiar with. We liked him and his work. We will be taking a large black and white photograph of his mother and aunt. In addition, we chose what will be an installation called Prison Without Walls. This will be composed of over 350 small clay figures, hand-formed by Vollak. It is a symbolic reference to Cambodia’s transformation of light to dark under the Khmer Rouge.
We finished off the day with a visit to the photographic print studio that printed out the work of our artist NEAK Sophal, our photographer who did the Hang On Series, the Rice Pot Series and the Thread Series. I can’t help saying again that seeing the actual artwork that we have been looking at on our computer for months and months is a THRILL! They continue to exceed our expectations.
Next day we go to Singapore!
MUSIC – ART & FILM!
Posted February 17, 2017
On day three we went on the Magic Music Bus to go visit a rural school. On the bus with us were a group of musicians who played the ancient traditional musical instruments of Cambodia. At the school the musicians gave a concert for the children. This was fun and instructive for us because we are going to have a concert during our show at the gallery with traditional Cambodian instruments.
On Day Four we finally got to JavaArts, which is the gallery and cafe of our co-curator Dana Langlois. Dana is an American who has been living in Phnom Penh for 17 years. Her gallery is so well-known, all we had to do was tell the Tuk Tuk driver to take us to JavaArts and they knew where to go. While there, we sat down with Dana and went over our game plan for visiting our artists in the days ahead.
We finally started to see art of our artists IN PERSON. It always makes a difference.
We looked at the incredible graphite drawings of our artist YIM Maline.
Later that day we went to an opening of YIM Maline at her gallery Sasa Bassac Gallery.
After the opening we went to a film premiere of Davy Chou’s Diamond Island. It was quite an affair. There was a Red Carpet for the beautiful young people of Cambodia. Our photo was taken on the red carpet but I doubt it was ever published.
We had a busy day but it was full of wonderful images and experiences.
FROM GREENWICH TO CAMBODIA
Posted February 7, 2017
Debra and Barbara had both been to Cambodia before. Debra was first introduced to the beauty and wonder of Cambodia on an art and travel trip two years ago sponsored by Cambodia Living Arts. Debra came back from her trip and we began talking about creating a show of contemporary Cambodian art at the Flinn Gallery. That thought began to become a reality as we researched artists in Cambodia and convinced the Flinn Gallery to host what may be the first large Cambodian group art show in America. It will open at the Flinn Gallery on May 4, 2017 as CAMBODIA: Looking Back on the Future. Of course we HAD to go to Cambodia to visit our artists and see their artwork. Before we knew it, our trip was booked for October 2016 and we were on our way.
Our goal in Cambodia was to experience the culture firsthand while meeting our artists, visiting musicians and storytellers and of course selecting art. We spent productive time working with our friends at Cambodia Living Arts. The highlight of our trip was meeting and working and traveling with Dana Langlois, JavaArts Gallery Owner and soon to be our co-curator. We immersed ourselves into the local culture and here is our story.
On October 24, after at least 20 hours of travel, we landed in Phnom Penh. We were picked up and whisked off to Charley Todd’s incredible home on the Mekong River. Just the name of this river rings so many bells for us. Being there was a fantasy come true. We were in a tropical jungle on the MEKONG!
In the morning we walked the neighborhood, noting the small stalls that sold breakfast, fresh fruit, admiring the temples and of course the Mekong. We visited the neighbors and got drenched in an afternoon monsoon shower. We kept wondering why no one was wearing raincoats. Charley had a cook come in the evening that prepared for us an authentic Cambodian dinner. The fantasy continued.
Our second day in Phnom Penh we were driven around the city. We were amazed at the amount of construction of large housing complexes that were being built. We were told that this process was erasing the old neighborhoods of the city. The central city has many stunning buildings from another era. Traffic was crazy with Tuk Tuks everywhere. We ate dinner at a restaurant and had the first of many wonderful meals.
Next on the agenda, we start meeting our artists and their artwork!