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Orange County Museum of Art presents the first U.S. solo exhibition of Cambodian artist Khvay Samnang
Khvay Samnang, Untitled (2011), Single-channel HD video, single-channel sound, courtesy of the artist.


NEWPORT BEACH, CA.- The Orange County Museum of Art presents the second installment of The Pacific Project video art series. The museum is showcasing the work of Cambodian artist Khvay Samnang in his first U.S. solo exhibition. The presentation, which includes three works, Air (2011), Untitled (2011), and Where is My Land? (with Nget Rady) (2014), is on view November 7, 2015 through February 28, 2016.

“Khvay Samnang examines the concerns of rapidly developing societies and the impact that growth has on the well-being of residents,” said OCMA Director and CEO Todd D. Smith. “His performance-based work, captured on video, focuses on land use. While his work has been exhibited extensively around Asia over the last few years, his exposure in the United States has been minimal.”

“We’re excited to offer Khvay’s unique take on life in Cambodia and the region to a broader public,” Smith continued. “Part of our mission is to nurture young artists in emerging artistic centers. The Pacific Project continues that tradition and allows us to cast our attention deeper to the dynamic region of Southeast Asia. This is the first time the museum has exhibited a Cambodian artist.”

In Untitled and Where is My Land?, the artist is troubled by the real estate development in Phnom Penh, and especially around that city’s Boeung Kak Lake. Formerly a tourist attraction and an important resource for the roughly 4,000 residents who lived around it, the lake has now been filled in with sand. Khvay, other artists and protesters have kept a watchful eye on the radical transformation. The artist chronicled the changes in Untitled, by filming himself not only at Boeung Kak but also four other Phnom Penh lakes that face a similar fate. At each site, he dumps sand on himself, a powerful gesture that mimics the burial of homes and livelihoods.

In Where Is My Land?, Khvay joins forces with dancer Nget Rady, who performs several choreographed moves on shore, in the water and sand, and on top of a floating set of sand pumping pipes. At times struggling, and at others gracefully mirroring the water’s ebb and flow, the dancer is repeatedly caught between the opposing forces of stasis and change. The title itself refers to the search for the land lost during the development process.

Also concerned with environments beyond his home-country of Cambodia, for the video Air, Khvay traveled to the Fukushima Prefecture in Japan in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake that disrupted the operations at the Fukushima Daiku nuclear plant. In the work, the artist performs the simple act of dumping a pail of air over his head in nine different settings around the prefecture. The futile act cannot impact the effects of the disaster, but it serves as a simple, poetic gesture.

Ranging from the beach to a picnic area with tall pines, and from a grove of apple trees to a spot next to a bridge, the landscapes Khvay chooses emphasize how central the land is to everyday life. Yet the pristine conditions of his backdrops are disturbed by the escalating sound of his Geiger counter readings, highlighting the contamination the nuclear accident has caused.

Khvay Samnang was born in 1982 in Svay Rieng, Cambodia and lives and works in Phnom Penh. His multidisciplinary practice spans performance, photography, video, installation and sculpture. Khvay’s solo exhibitions include Rubber Man, Jeu de Paume, Paris (2015); Human Nature, Tomio Koyama Gallery, Singapore (2014); and Newspaper Man, SA SA BASSAC, Phnom Penh (2012). His group exhibitions include Global Control and Censorship, ZKM, Germany (2015), The Khmer Rouge and the Consequences. Documentation as Artistic Memory Work, Akademie der Kunste, Berlin (2015), A Time For Dreams, IV Moscow International Biennale for Young Art (2014), If The World Changed, 4th Singapore Biennale (2014), and Everyday Life: 4th Asian Art Biennale, Taipei Fine Art Museum (2013). Recently, he was nominated for the AGO Photography Prize Long List, Canada; the Sovereign Asian Art Prize, Hong Kong; and was a Finalist for the Prudential Eye Awards.






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