Spotlight: Khvay Samnang. Dance Performance and Artist Talk
Former participant of the cultural programme at KfW Stiftung Khvay Samnang (*b.1982, Svay Rieng province/Cambodia) presents the performance “Popil”, a contemporary interpretation of traditional Cambodian dance. The performance will be followed by an artist talk with Khvay Samnang and Chum Chanveasna (Curator and Cultural Manager SASA Art Project).
Moderated by Daniela Leykam, Programme Manager Arts & Culture KfW Stiftung.
Performing dancers: Mot Pharan and Sot Sovanndy
Video Installation to the Performance: Popil (2-Channel Video, 21’59”, loop)
Works by Khvay Samnang from the collection of KfW Stiftung are presented on the first floor of the Villa 102.
The narrative of the performance “Popil” features two dancers performing a modern version of the classical dance “Robam kbach boran” – a prayer in movement for rain and fertility, commonly characterised by overtly curved and curled gestures and said to mimic the movements of a serpent or the flow of water. Overseen and danced by Mot Pharan and Sot Sovanndy, two of the country’s preeminent choreographers, the performance reinterprets a love story of two dragons - one representing Cambodia, the other China - whose twirling, circular movements from North-Eastern Cambodia to Phnom Penh to South-Eastern Cambodia mimic both the flows of the nation’s major rivers, as well as the circulation of capital throughout the country. Donning masks which the artist has fashioned from woven fishing vines, the work constitutes a critical remapping of the complex geographies and cultural rites which are enfolded within the wider rotating movements of Cambodian and Chinese interests and relations. In this way, “Popil” develops a complex dance choreography based around the symbolism of the dragon, which plays towards Euroamerica’s tendency to employ the motif as a blanket symbol for ‘Asia’. At the same time, this specific iconography and choreography serves to differentiate Chinese and Cambodian identity formation and cultural tradition.
Khvay Samnang’s work critically interrogates the multidimensional character of rituals and politics; exposing the humanitarian and ecological impacts of globalisation and its concomitant links to the waves of colonialism and migration which continually demarcate and define the spaces and temporalities of Southeast Asia. Informed by extended periods of research and investigation, each of Khvay’s multi-channel filmic works and installations examine the structures and conditions which underpin histories of exchange in both a material and cultural sense.
Dancing the Land at ifa-Galerie Stuttgart
Opening 22 May, Khvay Samnang will show the retrospective exhibition “Dancing the Land” (until 04.09.2022) at the ifa-Galerie, Stuttgart. Within this framework, Khvay Samnang will also show the performance “Popil” on 7 July in Stuttgart. The performances at both locations are a cooperation of KfW Stiftung and ifa-Galerie, Stuttgart.
The recording of the performance can be viewed here.
Spotlight – Khvay Samnang is the first iteration of a new public event series held at regular intervals at Villa 102. With readings, dance performances, and other artistic interventions, the initiative showcases previous participants of KfW Stiftung’s cultural programme and encourages a discussion around current issues in contemporary art. The historic Villa 102 serves as a stage for such transcultural dialogue and invites the public to exchange and discuss perspectives with artists.
Khvay Samnang (*1982, Svay Rieng province, Cambodia) graduated from the Painting Department at the Royal University of Fine Art. He was a grant holder of KfW Stiftung for a 12-month Artists in Residence programme in collaboration with Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin (2014-15) and was invited by KfW Stiftung as an alumnus to participate in a think tank with the world-renowned dancer and choreographer Akram Khan (2017). Khvay’s artworks have been presented in local and international venues, including at major exhibitions and festivals as Tramway, Glasgow; 1st Helsinki Biennial, Helsinki; Daegu Art Museum, Korea; Children’s Biennale 2021, Singapore; Bangkok Art Biennale 2020, Bangkok; Haus der Kunst, Munich; Frieze 2019, London; Batia Saem Gallery, Siem Reap; Art gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Biennale of Sydney; Taipei Biennale 2018; documenta 14, Athens, Kassel; Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo; Orange County Museum of Art, CA; Jim Thompson Art Center, Bangkok; Jue de Paume, Paris; Queens Museum, The Jewish Museum, NYC. Website.
Chum Chanveasna (*1982, Phnom Penh, Cambodia) graduated in Finance and Banking from Phnom Penh’s National University of Management in 2004. Since 2013, Chum is a gallery manager and curatorial assistant at Cambodia’s leading contemporary art gallery and reading room, SA SA BASSAC. As well, she works as a freelance exhibition maker and cultural manager and the manager of Sa Sa Art Projects, a non-profit contemporary art space. Chum was a researcher for IMPACT project (Peacebuilding and the Arts), Brandies University, Boston, USA, and a curatorial and artist assistant for Capsule 10: Khvay Samnang at Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany in 2018. In 2017, Chum was a curator in residence at Tokyo Wonder Site, Japan, and a co-curatorial researcher for Mutual Unknown Exhibition, National Gallery of Indonesia, Indonesia. Chum has participated in numerous prestigious national and international programmes, including: CuratorsLAB with Goethe-Institut, Jakarta, Indonesia; FIELDS: on attachement + unknow, SA SA BASSAC, Phnom Penh; and Dislocations: Remapping Art Histories, Tate Modern, London, 2015.
Mot Pharan is a graduate of Phnom Penh's Secondary School of Fine Arts and has taken workshops with numerous notable artists such as Germaine Acogny, Ananya Chatterjea, Pichet klunchun and Mark Moris. She has performed internationally with Sophiline Arts Ensemble since 2006 with lead roles in A Bend in the River, Monkul Lokey, Pamina Devi, Ream Eyso&Moni Mekhala, Seasons of Migration, Spiral Xll and Stained. She has worked with visual artist, Khvay Samnang on “Popil” as a dancer and choreographer from 2018-on.
Sot Sovanndy is a graduate of Phnom Penh's Secondary School of Fine Arts and has taken workshops with numerous notable artists such as Germaine Acogny, Ananya Chatterjea, Pichet klunchun and Mark Moris. She has been dancing internationally with Sophiline Arts Ensemble since 2006 with lead roles in A Bend in the River, Pamina Devi, Monkul Lokey, Ream Eyso&Moni Mekhala, Seasons of Migration and Stained. Her collaborative choreography includes Trout Poul chhnai, Viriyeak and Pkar Plerng. She has worked with visual artist, Khvay Samnang on “Popil” as a dancer and choreographer from 2018-on.
Khvay Samnang, Popil, 2018
Commissioned by Haus der Kunst
Choreography and dance by Mot Pharan and Sot Sovanndy
Two-channel video, color, sound, 21’59”, looped I Installation of 2 mask sculptures (woven vines, steel, variable dimensions) I Digital C-Print
Photograph: Salar Baygan
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