Still frame from Anida Yoeu Ali's Buddhist Bug Project.

From Cambodia: Buddhist Bugs, a Rubber Man and Traumatic Pasts

It comes only once every three years, but when it does it is oh so sweet. We’re talking about the Asia Pacific Triennial! In the lead up to the exhibition, we’ll be doing a series of posts previewing/profiling works by the artists representing the Southeast Asian region. Here’s what will be exhibited from Cambodia.


Still frame from Anida Yoeu Ali's Buddhist Bug Project.
Anida Yoeu Ali – The Buddhist Bug

Anida Yoeu Ali will be exhibiting a video which constitutes a portion of her Buddhist Bug Project. Ali herself inhabits a caterpillar-esque costume. Her face is framed by a hijab, the colour of which (along with the rest of the costume) is a clear reference to the saffron orange of the robes that Buddhist monks wear. Truly a cultural amalgam, not unlike the artist herself, who is a Khmer-Muslim woman that grew up in Chicago. Through the photo and video series, Ali explores her fascination with Buddhism; documents Cambodia’s shifting landscapes, both rural and urban; and explores her own multi-faceted cultural identity.

Khvay Samnang Rubber Man
Khvay Samnang Rubber Man

Khvay Samnang‘s 2011 untitled photo series will be on display at APT 8. His work explores human rights issues in Cambodia and his 2011 Untitled photo series about contentious development projects in the country’s capital Phnom Penh earned him international recognition. For APT 8, Khvay will exhibit his 2014 project Rubber Man, for which he went to the Cambodia’s northeast province of Ratanakiri to visit the rubber plantations and explore their effect on the environment and indigenous communities. In the pictures, the artist’s identity is obscured as he stands in the midst of these plantations and pours rubber sap over himself, alluding to the displacement of the local community and the destruction of their spiritually significant places.

Leang Seckon is one of a small number of living Cambodian artists that lived through and directly experienced the country’s Khmer Rouge period having been born in 1974 and growing up amongst the unrest. Leang’s work draws on his own life and explores Cambodia’s past and present through dense collages and paintings. They are a fantastical mish mash of symbols from Khmer mythology and pop culture and put together they tell the story of Cambodia’s history and Leang’s life.

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