Biennale of Sydney

Sa Sa Art Projects

Khvay Samnang, Human Nature, 2010–11, digital C-print, 80 x 120 cm. Courtesy the artist

Khvay Samnang, Human Nature, 2010–11, digital C-print, 80 x 120 cm. Courtesy the artist

Sa Sa Art Projects

Not-for-profit artist-run space founded in 2010 by the Stiev Selapak collective
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Participating artists:

Khvay Samnang

Lim Sokchanlina

Vuth Lyno

Pen Sereypagna

Additional contributions from collaborators, artists, students and residents of the White Building

Sa Sa Art Projects was established in 2010 by Cambodian art collective Stiev Selapak in response to the absence of an artist-run space embracing diverse and experimental art practices. Its original co-founders included Heng Ravuth, Khvay Samnang, Kong Vollak, Lim Sokchanlina, Vandy Rattana and Vuth Lyno. From 2013, the active co-founders include Khvay, Lim and Vuth, and the team has expanded to include former students and residents from the community.

Sa Sa Art Projects occupied a space in the White Building (originally known as the Municipal Apartments), a 1963 apartment complex designed to accommodate the tripling of Phnom Penh's population after its independence from France. It was designed by Cambodian architect Lu Ban Hap and French engineer Vladimir Bodiansky, informed by Bodiansky’s previous housing project in Algeria. The project aimed to offer a modern public housing alternative to lower- and middle-class Cambodians and comprised 468 apartments, forming part of the visionary public and cultural district known as the Bassac River Front, a larger project overseen by Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann. The White Building was re-occupied by artists after the Khmer Rouge, and the neighbourhood grew into a vibrant community of more than 500 households, before it was demolished in 2017.

Sa Sa Art Projects maintains The White Building Art Archive and online database which collects visual and audio materials produced by art and media students and residents, as well as selected works created in collaboration with local and international visiting artists. The Archive represents the history of the neighbourhood, reflecting the importance of this creative and adaptable community to the city of Phnom Penh. The White Building Art Archive functions as a proactive method of resistance and productive model against the recent increase in urban development which has seen the destruction of many historical buildings.

Sa Sa Art Projects presents an installation of archival materials and artworks from the Archive. Photographs from Khvay Samnang’s series ‘Human Nature’, 2010–11, in which masked figures, all residents of the White Building, are pictured inhabiting intimate domestic spaces. Accompanying the photographs is Vuth Lyno’s publication Playing Archive, 2015–ongoing, which includes contributions from collaborators, artists, students and residents of the White Building, who have selected materials from the Archive in combination with other online content to compose their individual narratives. A video work by Lim Sokchanlina, The Rock (White Building), 2011, documents an endurance performance that took place on the roof of the White Building. Pen Sereypagna’s Genealogy of Bassac (2015–ongoing) focuses on the changing form of the building structure over time and its relationship with the residents.