Archive for February, 2011

The Bomb Ponds by Vandy Rattana

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

There is a Khmer proverb that says: You can hear something a thousand times and not know it, yet if you see it with your eyes just once, you know. – Vandy Rattana

Between 1964 and 1975 the United States of America military dropped 2,756,941 tons (230,516 sorties on 113,716 sites) of bombs across politically neutral Cambodia. This figure went unacknowledged until 2000 when Bill Clinton traveled to Vietnam and quietly released previously classified Air Force data on American bombings in former Indochina.

Dissatisfied with the level of documentation produced on the subject, Vandy Rattana traveled to the ten Cambodian provinces most severely bombed in the U.S. military campaign during the Vietnam War. Along the way, he engaged villagers in locating and testifying to the existence of the craters made by the bombings, known in the Khmer language as the “bomb ponds”.

The resultant work is a series of nine quiet, mysteriously serene landscape photographs and a confronting one-channel documentary film in which villagers describe their memories of the bombings as well as their relationship to the ponds today. The Bomb Ponds invites audiences to connect with both the fragility and the resilience of the people and the land, and to reconsider the historical thread of America’s actions during the Vietnam War and subsequently, similar acts of violence worldwide.

Born into the tenuous recovery period after the official fall of the Khmer Rouge, Vandy Rattana (b.1980 Phnom Penh) is concerned with the lack of physical documentation accounting for the stories, traits, and monuments unique to his culture. His serial work employs a range of analog cameras and formats, straddling the line between strict photojournalism and artistic practice. The extensive nature of his subject matter forges against the plethora of stymied documentation on Cambodia today, and makes critical connections between present-day narratives and the historical value inherent in chronicling the contemporary moment.

Selected exhibitions by Vandy Rattana:

The Bomb Ponds, Hessel Museum, NY (2010); Fire of the Year, The 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT6), Brisbane, Australia (2009); Walking Through, Sa Sa Art Gallery, Phnom Penh, Cambodia (2009); TADAIMA: Looking for Sweet Home, Kyushu University, Japan (2009); Magnetic Power, Asean-Korean Center, Seoul, Korea (2009); Forever Until Now: Contemporary Art From Cambodia, 10 Chancery Gallery, Hong Kong (2009); Another Asia, Noorderlicht Photo Festival, The Netherlands (2006).


Monday, February 7th, 2011

Cambodia’s first contemporary art gallery dedicated to singular exhibitions by local Cambodian established artists opens in February.

PHNOM PENH – Sa Sa Bassac is a new space for contemporary art opening in Phnom Penh in February 2011. Located across the park from the National Museum and the Royal Palace and a bloc from the convergence of the Mekong, Tonle Sap, and Bassac River, Sa Sa Bassac is in the heart of Cambodia’s capitol city. The space comprises anuninterrupted sixty square meter gallery, an art library, and workshop room.

Sa Sa Bassac is dedicated to creating, facilitating, producing, and sharing contemporary visual culture and projects in and from Cambodia. Mindful of the Cambodian context, our programs carefully support diverse practices amongst artists, curators, writers, and other cultural producers. We aim to facilitate a respect and continuity of tradition while expanding the potentials and understanding of what art can be.
Programming at Sa Sa Bassac is focused on the creative and educational experience of the gallery exhibition for artist and audience. We are dedicated to singular exhibitionsof new work by local Cambodian early-mid career and established artists. In our first year, we are pleased to work with the following artists: Vandy Rattana, Yim Maline, Chan Dany, Ouk Sochivy, Leang Seckon, Svay Sareth, Khvay Samnang, Lim Sokchanlina, Than Sok, Duong Saree, as well as participation in the PhotoPhnomPenh festival.

Each exhibition will be supported by a uniquely tailored visual literacy program (Khmer and English languages) including public lectures, age-specific art classes in cooperation with local schools, and publications. Our library is supported by donations: books, periodicals, and our ongoing initiative Cambodian Visual Art Archive (CVAA) will be accessible for public use in our reading/workshop room. We welcome to the space individual or collaborative research initiatives, projects and presentations by Cambodian diaspora, regional and international artists and collectives.

Sa Sa Bassac is both an expansion of Sa Sa Art Gallery and a merger with Bassac Art Projects. Sa Sa Art Gallery was founded in 2009 by the Cambodian artist group Stiev Selapak, or Art Rebels, who saw the need for an independent commercial gallery that provided opportunities for emerging artists and engaging the Cambodian public. Sa Sa Art Gallery hosted ten exhibitions by emerging artists and, along the way, developed a loyal audience of art advocates in the local Cambodian and expatriate community. The gallery is listed in The Japan Foundation’s Art Guide to Asia (2010). Bassac Art Projects was founded in 2007 by Fulbright-Humphrey fellow, curator and scholar of contemporary art from Cambodia, Erin Gleeson,to support curatorial and educational practices in the visual arts including developing exhibitions locally and internationally, writing curriculum, collections-building, and creating residency opportunities for emerging artists. Gleeson will direct Sa Sa Bassac.

The first exhibition at SA SA BASSAC is The Bomb Ponds by VANDY Rattana, a Stiev Selapak co-founder. The Bomb Pondscomprises color photographs and documentary film of seemingly serene landscapes –circular bodies of water and indentations of land: craters left from covert American carpet-bombing of Cambodia between 1964-1975. Vandy’s work testifies to and questions thisperiod of destruction. First exhibited at the Hessel Museum, Bard College, New York, The Bomb Ponds was voted as one of ten museum exhibitions to see in 2010 by Art Asia Pacific’s Almanac editors. The exhibition opens on 17 February at 6pm, with an artist talkscheduled for 18 February at 6pm in Khmer and English.

Sa Sa Bassac is located at #18 (upstairs) Sothearos Boulevard. For more information, contact Erin Gleeson +855 (0)12 507 917 or


Southeast Asia and World History

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

Call for Papers

Southeast Asia and World History

January 2-4, 2012, Siem Reap, Cambodia

The World History Association, in conjunction with Pannasastra University of Cambodia, announces a symposium on the world-historical significance of Southeast Asia. The symposium seeks to generate dialog among scholars within and outside of the region regarding its place in world history. It seeks to identify those world history processes that have application to the region’s past, present and future and stimulate discussion of world history methodology and pedagogy in the Southeast Asian context.

Among the topics that may be addressed at the symposium are: the nature of world history; the processes of indigenization, localization, and syncretism; the decline and fall of classical societies; Diaspora and gender studies; the colonial experience; nationalism; conflict and post-conflict studies; trade; economy; religion and culture; art; regional questions in global perspective such as borderlands; regional diplomatic relations; investment, tourism and resource management issues; the environment; comparative genocide; and models for World History and global studies in terms of scholarship and instruction. These topics are examples only and should not be taken to exclude proposals on other topics. Scholars from all disciplines are encouraged to submit proposals. Select refereed papers from the conference will be published in the e-journal “World History Connected” (University of Illinois Press) and a book project is planned.

The conference will be held minutes from the Archeological Conservation Area that includes Angkor Wat. Pre/post and concurrent symposium activities will be structured so as to permit tours of these and other local sites which connect them to the wider region and the world.

Panels will meet in air conditioned rooms on the newly-built Pannasastra University of Cambodia’s Siem Reap campus. The time limit for presenting papers will be 20 minutes, and the deadline for submitting papers to the session moderator is three weeks in advance of the conference. Individual paper proposals must include a 100-200 word summary with the title of the paper, name, institutional affiliation, e-mail address, phone and fax numbers, and brief curriculum vitae, all integrated into a single file, preferably in MS-Word. Proposals for entire sessions or panels must contain the same information for each participant, as well as contact information and a brief C.V. for the moderator if you suggest one. (The program committee can help find moderators, if necessary.) There is a limited number of AV-equipped rooms available so it is essential that you indicate your need for audiovisual equipment (and what kind) in your proposal. All meeting rooms are air conditioned.

Please send your completed proposal with the following in the subject line of the email: WHS, followed by Your LAST NAME (family), and then Your First name, then short paper/panel name to the WHA Symposia coordinator, Maryanne Rhett, at Individuals wishing to moderate a session should send a statement of interest, contact information, and a brief C.V. to the program coordinator.

The deadline for the submission of paper and panel proposals is September 1st, 2011.

All panelists must register to be on the program. The language of the conference is English. A rolling acceptance process will be in place to assist panelists to solicit travel support from their home institutions and organizations.

Unfortunately, the conference does not have funds to subsidize scholars’ travel and lodging at the meeting.

Registration rates, benefits of registration for WHA members, and waivers for Cambodian teachers, in-service Teachers Across Borders members and others will be posted on the WHA registration site shortly. Please check the World History Association website ( for registration information, low-cost housing options and both conference and optional touring logistics information (to be posted shortly). Excellent inexpensive lodging, food, shopping and entertainment are all available close to the conference site. Local transportation is available in the range of $2.00 per ride and can be arranged for $20.00 for an entire day. The weather in Siem Reap in early January is ideal: dry with cool mornings, high in the mid 80s at mid-day. Siem Reap is famous for its Pub Street district, a five minute walk from the conference site. It features sidewalk restaurants, cafes and shops; most visitors make evening strolls there a habit. Siem Reap still has the flavor of a small town, albeit flooded with both backpackers and traditional tourists whose presence has led to widespread spoken English and Western-style supermarkets. Heath and crime issues are minimal (See State Department advisories and your travel medicine specialist before undertaking any travel). Tourist visas are inexpensive. Siem Reap’s international airport is serviced by a variety of airlines from most Asian hubs. Most international travel passes through Bangkok’s international airport. Because of the International Dateline, attendees departing January 4 will be able to make connections permitting participation at the American Historical Association in Chicago later that week.

Georges Groslier “Dances Cambodgiennes anciennes et modernes”

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Khmarnival 2011 and more

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

More fun from