The video shows a woman covered head to toe in traditional Khmer fabrics removing layer after layer of fabric, finally revealing her true identity wearing modern clothing and makeup, with a soundtrack that reflects the boundaries between the two worlds which is a mix of both modern and traditional sounds.
“This video demonstrates the power of artistic activism. A simple gesture accompanied by a radical message. Women have been suffocating under the pressure of tradition since the dawn of time. Adapting to the modern era while keeping the knowledge of our roots is necessary to move forward as a nation and as a civilization ”, explains Franco-Cambodian artist Adana Mam-Legros to The Post.
The short but powerful video was made as part of the I’ll Show You Who I Am campaign, with an exhibition held September 17-19 at the FT Gallery of Usine Phnom Penh.
The video is intended to highlight the pressures women face from traditional culture in Cambodia in order to highlight opportunities to overcome them and was created to kick off the Generation C campaign for women’s rights in Cambodia.
The campaign is part of the “Voices for Gender Equality” project sponsored by the EU and DanChurchAid or Danish Church Aid (DCA), an NGO founded by the Danish Lutheran National Church.
“After receiving a grant from DCA to launch a campaign for women’s rights, we were looking to incorporate art to make a powerful and provocative statement. We were inspired by the quote from Letty Cottin Pogrebin “when men are oppressed it is a tragedy, when women are oppressed it is a tradition”, explains Adana.
Co-founder and president of Generation C Cambodia, Adana organized and contributed to the multimedia exhibition consisting of seven watercolors by Daneth, four digital works of art by Phailin, three photographs by Gisel Studio and three campaign videos as well as a poem written and performed by a Khmer woman.
“This project developed around the idea of showing the invisible pressure that women face in their daily life and the person they are behind all the stigma and pressure,” explains the artist and activist.
Generation C – a non-profit organization that Adana co-founded in 2020 – promotes the development of a socially-oriented art movement with the goal of increasing empathy in society and people’s emotional intelligence, by putting more emphasis on ethics and social responsibility.
One of the goals of Generation C is to encourage a shift from consumerism to social awareness as engaged citizens using the power of artistic activism.
The Generation C exhibition at FT Gallery was produced in collaboration with Gisel Studio – a Phnom Penh-based creative studio that creates conceptual visuals using photography, video and interactive design.
The exhibition featured two new artists: Phailin Cadiot and Ma Daneth, Cambodian women who shared their struggles and dreams in a post-screening discussion of the video which also included three other notable Cambodian women: Kesorrr, Tharoth Sam and Beautiful.
“There are a lot of incredible female figures in Cambodia. We wanted to choose [participants] not only according to their background but what they represent in Cambodia. Speaking of the pressure of tradition, we wanted to look for women who broke the traditional codes and boundaries of our society, women who went beyond the limits of tradition and culture, ”says Adana.
Lomorkesor Rithy – known professionally as Kesorrr – is a Cambodian singer, songwriter and entrepreneur with short hair and a rock and roll look. She is co-founder of Plerng Kob (Campfire) and also Creative Director of Bonn Phum (Village Festival).
Chumvan Sodhachivy – also known as Belle – is the founder of Silver Bell Dance, a group of performance artists. She is a professional dancer, choreographer and teacher who mixes contemporary dance and traditional Khmer dance in her workshops and performances in order to “allow tradition to evolve”.
Tharoth Sam is a Cambodian MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter who uses a blend of traditional Bokator and modern MMA techniques. Her acting career is also progressing rapidly and her last appearance was with internationally renowned singer and actress Jennifer Lopez.
Adana says that traditionally Khmer women are prohibited from doing men’s work or engaging in activities considered masculine such as fighting, so for her Tharoth was an important person to include in the campaign as a example of someone who really pushes the boundaries and limits. imposed on women by traditional gender roles.
“This exhibition aims to present the campaign for women’s rights, but it also aims to reveal the talents of women artists in Cambodia. We take this opportunity to shine the spotlight on Phailin Cadiot and Ma R. Daneth – two self-taught artists who have never had the chance to have their own show. None of them have ever gone to art school, but their passion for art shines brightly in their work, ”says Adana.
Deth’s work focuses on the beauty of Khmer culture and her works are gracious and meant to be a reminder of the peace people can find within themselves.
Phailin is a young Franco-Thai artist who shares her personal stories about depression in order to inspire people to engage in self-examination of their own lives and to raise awareness about mental health.
“People should know that not everyone lives a life full of ice cream and rainbows,” Phailin says.
A percentage of the sales of the works of art in the exhibition will be donated to three local NGOs: Raksa Koma Foundation (RKF), Samakithoar and Happy Chandara.
Samakithoar is an offshoot of Generation C aiming to distribute food and meals to people in need and to help refocus Buddhist philosophy and values in Cambodian society through the establishment of “solidarity restaurants” in local communities. pagodas.
RKF is a non-profit organization founded by Serey Chea – Director of the National Bank of Cambodia – with a mission to empower disadvantaged Cambodians by providing them with opportunities to create a better future for themselves and their communities.
Happy Chandara School was founded 12 years ago by the French NGO Tous à l’école and is committed to promoting quality education for women in Cambodia by offering free education to underprivileged girls.
“I want to emphasize fundamental human values such as the act of sharing, the importance of compassion and above all the art of living together or conviviality,” says Adana.
For more information on Generation C: https://www.generationccambodia.com/