Artist narrative

Samnang’s Wedding series offers a backstage pass to the traditional Khmer marriage ceremony. Unlike the formal documentation which is later altered for countless hours in Photoshop to meet the family’s idea of perfection, Samnang’s documentation shows the unperfected, in-between moments of ceremony, revealing the colourful and exhausting efforts of the participants.

Samnang’s hirsute sculptures made from left over hair sourced from roadside barbers in Phnom Penh stems from his fascination with Cambodian women’s beauty rituals such as hair removal, skin polishing and makeup application.

"It seems women do not like their natural beauty or their shape. Some women use makeup, applying powder and drawing around their eyes, they even have surgery to adjust their eyelids so they get bigger eyes. Some women have their ears pierced with many holes or have their noses pierced. Perhaps these women like cattle and want to be powerful and strong like those animals. Some others use chemical substances to change their hair color to blonde so it is the color of corn".

Women’s attachment to beauty and betterment, fashions and ideals can be traced through Angkorian history to the present day. Nowadays Cambodian girls are having a new revolution of beauty influenced by Western ideals and fashions.

Artist bio

Born in 1982 in Phnom Penh, Samnang studied painting at the Royal University of Fine Arts in the city of his birth. He graduated in 2006 and immediately expanded his art practise, experimenting in diverse media such as sculpture, photography, video and installation. Samnang could be likened to an artistic anthropologist, quietly observing subtleties within Cambodian society in order to pose questions of their affects and relevance today.

In 2008, as part of a vibrant group of young contemporary Cambodian artists, he co-founded an artist collective called Stiev Selapak in Phnom Penh. Since then he has had work in group shows in Cambodia, Hong Kong and France and in 2010 had his first solo exhibition at Java Café/Gallery, Phnom Penh.

In 2010 he was selected as artist in residence for the JENESYS programme at Tokyo Wonder Site, where he spent three months experimenting with sculptural and performance art. "Wedding and Hair" at Hotel de la Paix is Samnang’s first solo exhibition in Siem Reap and is witness to the start of an extremely interesting and promising career in the Arts.

"Wedding and Hair"
Khvay Samnang
13 January - 03 March 2011

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