Statement of Purpose: Empowering Cambodian women visual artists !

selapak neari | Art Studio (SN | AE) is a new and experimental venture dedicated to forging meaningful connections and interactions between art, artists and local communities Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

In 2005, a search for Cambodian artists revealed that there are only a very small proportion of female artists in the country. Out of 20 artists met, only 3 women artists’ names came up: Duong Saree and Long Sophea, both of traditional background, and myself, in contemporary art. There clearly exists a generation gap amongst Cambodian women artists. Before the Khmer Rouge period, women in the art world were trained in developing traditional Cambodian art skills. Nowadays the younger generation are orienting toward contemporary art, yet they have no role model to look up to and who can help empower women as visual artists. There are more and younger female Khmer artists launching themselves in contemporary art without any focus, guidance or support.

There are a number of professional women artists working and living in Cambodia. “Selapak Neari” is a project to create dialogs and exchanges amongst women artists beyond the national identity. Many women artists from all over Asia live and work in Cambodia. The contemporary art scene in Cambodia is similar to other countries, i.e. dominated by male artists. This project serves as an opportunity for women artists to meet, exchange ideas and visions, and to share a diversity of art views through a deeper understanding of their national culture, hence reinforcing their own identity.

In order to enhance bonding and deepen artistic knowledge, artists are encouraged to work in pairs. A non Cambodian artist will have her counterpart Cambodian artist. They may or may not create collaborative art work; by working in pairs it will stimulate creative dialogs within an intimate relationship between artists of the same or different disciplines.

Artists are encouraged to be part of the community: by exchanging information about exhibitions, residencies, and about their artistic productions. By working together, these meetings will break down the artists’ isolation and stimulate creative dialogs amongst them.

The team of Selapak Neari met with Tay Tong from ANA on Friday 24th. We discussed about the art scene and mostly all the events SN is going to put up. As Tay Tong recommended us to also have an artist in residence to support our rent of space…

We found and signed the lease on Monday 27th August. There is a large room for meeting, workshop and work space for artists in residence. We have an office space and a bedroom.

Our next step is to transform the space into an art space. October and November, we have already artists coming. With French graffiti artist Theo Vallier we will decorate the walls with art. This will be a workshop with female art students to discover graffiti art.

The camaraderie is there from the very beginning. Girls helping each other from the very first meeting. Qudy was looking for models for her next painting and here the selapak neari posing for her. The girls are excited to start the workshops and meet other women artists…

September: opening artists meeting night

Selapak Neari had their opening center night. They met other artists working in Cambodia. Journalists from Cambodge Soir and RFI interview some of the artists. It is the beginning of acknowledging the presence of women artists at work in Cambodia. The interview on RFI will be on air on Thursday from 7 to 8 am on FM92 and from 9 to 10am on FM 102.

Three others artists want to join the program: TITH Kanitha alias Vicky from RUFA (Royal University of Fine Arts) in design and SIN Soda a graduated from RUFA in painting. The group welcome them with most enthusiasm.

The Stiev Selapak group join in the celebration of the opening of the art space dedicated to Selapak Neari. The atmosphere was about networking, fun and friendly.