The first Battambang Art Festival will be held tomorrow, bringing together more than 70 of the city’s visual and performing artists for events and workshops along the riverside.
The festival is the result of a series of informal meetings called by local artists and community members held in cafés and galleries over the past six months. Their aim was to highlight the cultural capital of the small city, where many of Cambodia’s emerging contemporary artists get their start.
“We wanted to show that Battambang had a lot of artists,” says Laura Petit, a festival co-organiser and the general manager at the city’s Sangker Gallery. She adds that those taking part range from young artists to the “leading artists” in Battambang.
Painter Lim Leang Chay says he and his team have made two large-scale puppets to display at the entrance to the festival. “I am excited that there is a big event in Battambang to gather all the artists in one place,” he says. “It’s the first time for us to show our different arts to the public.”
It will also be a place to showcase the city’s rich past. Also unveiled at the festival will be a statue of songwriter, poet and filmmaker Kong Bunchhoeun, according to participating artist Nov Cheanick. The Battambang native passed away in Norway this year at the age of 76.
Cheanick will be part of a live painting exercise with two other artists. “It’s really important for me to see all the artists together, because we always separate from each other,” he says. “It’s not just a one-day festival, but a [place] where we can meet and talk about future plans.”
Appropriately, the festival will begin with a 50-strong parade of artists through Battambang’s sleepy streets. “We really wanted to show how Battambang is a city of art and architecture – to show the people that there are a lot of artists, and not just in the galleries,” the co-organiser Petit says. “We wanted to show them in the street.”
The Battambang Art Festival will take place tomorrow from 4pm to 9pm on the city’s riverside promenade.