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Contemporaneity: Historical Presence in Visual Culture is a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the University of Pittsburgh, USA, with an advisory board that includes Professor Terry Smith.

The latest volume includes an essay titled “On the Coevalities of the Contemporary in Cambodia. Review: ‘Sampot: the Collection of Small Things’ by Chan Dany.” The essay is a review of Phnom Penh-based artist Chan Dany’s 2013 solo exhibition at SA SA BASSAC, incorporating some reflections on contemporaneity in Cambodia. It is available for free, open-access download. The essay is 14 pages, with illustrations, in English.

Chan Dany, "Sampot: The Collection of Small Things (Diamond in the Flower)," 2013. Lycra, lace, plastic beads, sequins, cotton thread. 100cm x 150cm. Photograph by Lim Sokchanlina. Courtesy of the artist and SA SA BASSAC.

Chan Dany, “Sampot: The Collection of Small Things (Diamond in the Flower),” 2013. Lycra, lace, plastic beads, sequins, cotton thread. 100cm x 150cm. Photograph by Lim Sokchanlina. Courtesy of the artist and SA SA BASSAC.

 

The essay includes some discussion of Chan Dany’s use of kbach, a Khmer system of ornamentation in continuous use for over a millennium. I conclude by proposing that:

“In Chan’s exhibition, a vision of Cambodia emerges that is at once old and new, local and global. This articulation of contemporaneity refuses the dominant narrative about the nation, centered on the temples of Angkor Wat and the traumas of the Khmer Rouge. Yet it also resists the tendency to overlook or downplay historical continuities. In his attention to the sampot and manners of dress, his use of newly available imported materials, his employment of compositional methods derived from drawing from life to plan works that utilize ancient Khmer kbach forms, and his inventive superimpositions of those design forms on prefabricated laces, Chan reveals the multiplicity of contemporaneity in Cambodia. His glittering works illuminate the coevality of influences and interests that make this artist so fascinating, and his context so crucial to a nuanced understanding of the world today.”

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