The first of the four SEAM Spaces opened its doors in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on 10 October. About 150 guests followed the invitation to see Folding Concrete that Thursday evening.
It started slowly, but by 7:30 pm the narrow staircase to the exhibition on the fourth and fifth floors was so packed with guests that some of them eventually gave up their plans to attend the exhibition opening. Inside, local curator and artist Lyno Vuth, who developed the exhibition together with the architect Sereypagna Pen, introduced the ideas and processes behind the SEAM Space Phnom Penh to the audience, while Sally Below, Moritz Henning, and Christian Hiller from the Berlin initiators’ team gave an overview of the overall context.
Rifandi S. Nugroho, a local partner from Indonesia, gave a preview of the SEAM Space Jakarta, introducing the contribution to the project which launched on 22 October, and Puay-Peng Ho, professor of architectural history and curator of the SEAM Space Singapore, presented the concept of the contribution there which opened at the end of November 2019.
Folding Concrete brings archival materials, research projects, and artworks together and addresses Cambodian modernism in a new and fresh way. Inviting the public to interact and reflect, the exhibition also provides a resource corner with archival materials, personal collections, books, and magazines.
Besides architects and art experts, many young people accepted the invitation to engage with modernism in Phnom Penh – lively discussions and content-related conversations during the opening showed the relevance of discussing Cambodian modernism and postcolonial history.
This created a good basis for the lab run by collaborators from the Vann Molyvann Project, which was established during the exhibition and focuses on archiving and documenting modernist architecture in Phnom Penh that has been overlooked or has already disappeared. In addition to documenting these buildings, the lab aims to explore new ways of creating online archives.
The last guests left the space around 10:30 pm for a late-night dinner at a restaurant and bar in street 21, where the discussion went on until late.