The varied public programme of the SEAM Space Phnom Penh was concluded on 2 November with the talk “Exhibiting the Contested Modern in Post-independence Cambodia” by artist and curator Vuth Lyno, artistic director of Sa Sa Art Projects and co-curator of Folding Concrete.
The talk took place on 2 November at the Dambaul Reading Room. Dambaul (meaning “rooftop”) was founded in 2019 in response to the needs of the local arts community as an “arts resource home – a reading room, an art archive, and a space for the sharing of knowledge; for curious and passionate minds”.
In his presentation, Vuth Lyno discussed various competing narratives of exhibiting modernity during Cambodia’s post-independence including the 1955 International Exposition of Phnom Penh, the American Festival 1956 – 1957, and the display at the Exhibition Hall of Phnom Penh’s Bassac River Front during the 1960s. While Cambodia was seeking to position itself as an independent, modern state and a member of the international community, it also had to manoeuvre the contending cultural influences of the Cold War between the “Free World” and the Soviet bloc. The language of the modern was continuously being shaped and shifted until its stable formulation in the 1960s.
The interested audience asked numerous questions after the presentation and discussed the topic with the speaker. Many audiences at the event didn’t know about that early cultural history of Cambodia. Many questions were raised concerning the 1955 International Exposition.