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on the BOAT

Facing the back alley, I can see the neighbors’ balconies from this tiny thrown-on balcony of my hotel room. I can see their kitchen, and we can even see each others’ laundry. Quite a contrary to the view from the hotel’s rooftop cafe commanding the temples and the Independence Monument, our rooms are so ordinary. But it’s fun to catch a glimpse of people’s lives across a balcony and seeing stands and bikes drive through the narrow alley.

I’m at Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It’s already been 4 days since I arrived.

I first visited an art gallery called SA SA BASSAC where an exhibition was just being dismantled and was welcomed by Moeng Meta, the project manager. It’s a small space but the artists archives are neatly sorted, and has an office and a reading space with art related books.

The research days following this first meeting with her turned out to create delightful links.

While we talked about the Cambodian art and artists situation, she suggested to meet at an opening party held at the Java Cafe & Gallery later on, where I met Dana Langlois, the artistic director of Java. She happened to be in midst of building a new space, a big ship that was used as a hotel. So the next day we sailed on a small boat and visited the former luxury liner though it was still being renovated. I wanted to post photos from there but she wanted to keep it a secret. I don’t know when it will open but it was a fantastic place, or rather, ship. It’s sure going to be a notable art space… I mean precisely, art port of Phnom Penh.

The day after, I met Prof. Roger Nelson (PhD). He lectured me on Cambodian art history, and enlightened me with knowledge on my next destination Siem Reap and its artists, possible exhibition spaces, and all the information I needed in such a little time. He was easy to talk to and mindfully listened to me talk about ASR and OPEN GATE, I think I can trust on his opinions in the future.

In the evening, I visited the White Building, a massive apartment-esque building. There was a team who archives the history of the building and of its surroundings. They organize artist-in-residence as well, and it felt like the artists community and the general community were living in coexistence.

VUTH Lyno, the artistic director, took us around, told us about himself and I got to meet a Vietnamese artist who was participating in the residency program.

Then I visited a local Japanese teacher, Sachiyo Rein (ex.JFKL) at her step-mother’s house for dinner and enjoyed the genuine Khmer cuisine cooked by the mom. Sachiyo’s kids and the twin cousin, and somebody’s brother… For some reason the scene of the mom dealing with the cackling kids while feeding us tasty food showed me a peek of Cambodia’s sturdiness. The tuk-tuk (auto rickshaw) rocked me home as the last night at Phnom Penh wore on.

There were so many keywords and people so above is a very short version of the story.

I need to absorb the experience and a little more time to be able to break down the full story. But I hope what I learned from these days will connect later on.

I’m exploring the artworks, artists, scenes, spaces and activities within, and for a place to hold the exhibit, but still organizing and keeping track of all the information. Getting ready for a sail, I guess.

All these information can’t be found anywhere else, that’s why I had to come here to find out.

I’m reminded of the importance of a research during the few days in Phnom Penh.

I’m leaving for Siem Reap today. It is Cambodia’s biggest tourist spot for having a World Heritage site. Now a booming site, what’s to be found there is even more unknown than Phnom Penh. I just need to go and find out.

Maybe I can see something when I arrive.

On the boat. Passed the gate, is boarding.



まず行ったのは SA SA BASSAC というArt Gallery、展示はちょうど終わってしまい、撤収中の中出迎えてくれのは Projects Manager の Moeng Meta さん。小さいスペースだが、作家のアーカイブがきちんと整理されていて、オフィスもあり、アート関係の本を読めるリーディングスペースもある。


Cambodiaのアート事情、作家の話などを聞きつつ、この日の夜に Java Cafe & Gallery にてオープニングパーティーがあるからそこで後で合流しましょう、という事になり、行った Java Cafe で今度はこのギャラリーの Artistic director 、Dana Langlois さんに出会う。彼女はどうやら新しい場所を作っている最中だという。元ホテルとして使われていた大きな船だとの事、という事で次の日、小型の船に乗り、その大きな豪華客船?(しかしまだリノベーション中)を訪問。写真見せたいけど、まだ秘密にしておきたいとの事。オープンがいつ頃かどうなるのかまだわからないけど、すごくいい場所、というか船である。これが完成したらPhnompenh 名物のアートスペース、、もとい、、、アートボートになる事だろう。

その次の日、会ったのは、Roger Nelson さん(PhD)。カンボジアのアートの歴史などをレクチャーしてくれ、次の訪問先 seam reap の情報、作家の情報、開催場所によさそうな場所の紹介など、短い時間にさくさくと私の必要としている情報を教えてくれた。話のしやすい人でASR の事もOPEN GATE の事も興味深く聞いてくれ、今後も相談にのってくれそうな感触。

夕方、Whitte Buirding という巨大な公団のような建物を見学。この建物やそれにまつわる歴史をアーカイブしているチームがいる。アーティストレジデンスも行っていてアーティストコミュニティと普通の住民が共存しているような雰囲気。Arstistic Director のVUTH Lyno さんにいろいろ案内してもらいながら、ちょうどレジデンス中のベトナムの作家に会ったり、彼自身の話を聞いたり。

夜は現地で日本語教師(元JFKL)をしているレイン幸代さんのお義母さま宅を訪問、お義母さまによる本場家庭クノール料理を堪能。レインさんのお子さんをはじめ、いとこの双子ちゃんやらお兄ちゃんやら、かしましい子供達に囲まれながらもさばさばとおいしい料理をふるまってくれるレインさんのお義母さんになにやらCambodia のたくましさを感じながら、トゥクトゥクに揺られつつ Phnompenh 滞在の最後の夜は更けた。





リサーチの重要性を深く思う Phnompenh での数日間。

今日は Seam reap にむけて出発する。世界遺産のあるCambodiaの観光地。今人気急上昇中のこの場所には何があるのか、ここPhnompenhよりも情報がない、とりあえず行ってみるしかない。


on the boat, gate の先は boarding.

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