Loading Events
cag-5th-show-01-1
Silhouettes of Tomorrowland | Installation
January 15 to April 14, 2016

“Silhouettes of Tomorrowland” a solo art exhibition by Kong Vollak, one of Cambodia’s most gifted emerging artists. Vollak is a multi-talented young artist who works in several mediums, often blending facets of sculpture and printmaking in his intricately beautiful and powerful installations. He is well-known for his mural drawings of skyscrapers and cityscapes.
In Phnom Penh, a decade of rapid economic growth has brought about an eruption of new buildings and mega-structures—world-class shopping malls, entertainment complexes, hotels, high-tech business centers, modern residential compounds, casinos, universities, and hospitals. This expansion has had tradeoffs: physical dislocation and shrinking of public open space, gardens, and playgrounds.

Vollak’s printmaking and installations portray urbanization in a manner in which buildings and towering structures take on the qualities of iconography, the city’s main centerpieces. Vollak observes the development of Phnom Penh over time; the past is remembered as development expands. He evokes in the viewer’s imagination lost times in a city in which people lived and did all they could to survive. Sustainability going forward is called into question.

In “Silhouettes of Tomorrowland,” Vollak will take us through a live installation that took him over a month to complete. At the show’s conclusion, he will exhibit his prints alongside the installation.
As part of this unique interactive installation, Kong Vollak is inviting viewers to a rare glimpse at his work in progress.

Kong Vollak

Artist: Kong Vollak

Kong Vollak was born in 1983 in Phnom Penh. He graduated from Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh specializing in sculpture (2002-2006). Vollak has taken part in several workshops and residencies with foreign artists in Sri Lanka, Andorra, Singapur or Myanmar. He has also studied photography at “Le Popil Gallery”. He has been exhibiting frequently throughout Cambodia since 2005. In 2007, together with other artists of his generation, he formed the group “Stiev Selapak” (“Art Rebels”); the same year Vollak was nominated the Cambodian Curator for the Mekong Art and Culture Project. Two  years later, he became a high school teacher on the subjects of Drawing and History of Khmer Art at Svay Rieng province to share his knowledge on art making and to support his own practice. Last 2013 Vollak got a Bronze Medal of Sculpture from the Juex De La Francophonie in France.

PRESS & MEDIA

INTERVIEW by Kim Philley

Kong Vollak interviewed by Kim Philley on February 11, 2016, during his live instillation at the Asia Foundation’s Community Art Gallery in Phnom Penh:

INTERVIEWER

I like the idea of a live gallery instillation. Am I correct that you’ve done live instillations before?

KONG VOLLAK

First I do [a live instillation] in Sa Sa Bassac Gallery and after I do it again in New York City. And this is the third time that I do the live instillation.

INTERVIEWER

It must be a new challenge each time. How is this live instillation different? This instillation is inspired by Phnom Penh, right?

KONG VOLLAK

The first time I used—that is also the big event—I used the charcoal to draw the building to complete the gallery, like even the wall and the ceiling also; I do a little bit of instillation on the floor. And the second time, I do the instillation by drawing on the paper and install it in my room in New York. It looks like the buildings are all around. This time I do like a sculpture instillation. It’s not so different, it’s just the technical [aspect], how to draw, how to make a sculpture, but the idea is the same. I would like to invite the people, the audience, when they come to see my exhibition, I want them to have a feeling like when they walk into a city, and the city has a lot of buildings of different sizes.

INTERVIEWER

The feeling starts when they walk into the gallery? I like that. I read a couple quotes of yours in the Phnom Penh Post and Cambodia Daily. They made me curious, and I’d like to understand more. In one of them you said, “This time I’m taking [buildings] from the sky down to the ground.”

KONG VOLLAK

This idea comes from buildings I do line drawing and during the Our City Festival in 2012 at the Night Market. I draw on the street and ask the people who look to me to join my drawing. So my drawing, the canvas is very long, and I ask the people to come to draw together with me on the canvas. So, one kid, he draw the building has the wings. I’m so surprised when I saw that building! And he said, “If my building, if this house has a problem with the government, I will just ask my house to fly away. It’s easy.” And another man, he draws his building with wheels. I ask him, Why is your building with wheels? The answer is same like the kid: “It’s easy to move.”

INTERVIEWER

And these are Cambodian answers?

KONG VOLLAK

Yes. And after I keep that idea in mind . . . I start to create something like this, and ask myself, why I just draw the building from the floor to up? So, one time, I bring this idea to do my printmaking in Mexico and my building is so high to touch the god, to touch the angel, so the angel is moved from [their home]—it’s like the angel is angry with the buildings so [the angels] start to build from where they live, from the sky down. How they feeling?

INTERVIEWER

I like that idea, like the building disturbs the angel, so they think, How would you like it if we built from the sky down to you?

KONG VOLLAK

Also, in this idea . . . of course we make the high building, the beautiful building, I want it too, but should be [built in a way] that’s correct. It’s like when we build the building so the spirits around there are moving . . . .

INTERVIEWER

Like what does the form of the building disturb?

KONG VOLLAK

Because I think, Phnom Penh, before Phnom Penh plan is a unique plan, it’s very different from Bangkok or Singapore or Philippines. But now Phnom Penh going to be the same, same as Bangkok, same in Singapore, soon.

INTERVIEWER

What for you is uniquely Phnom Penh?

 KONG VOLLAK

For me it would be unique if they put the [tall] building outside the old map, from 1960. It’s like when the [tall] buildings outside, so will be very strange city and very interesting city.

INTERVIEWER

I saw a photo on the Internet of you and your mother in front of Independence Monument in the 1980s, in what is now Hun Sen Park. Since you are from Phnom Penh, how does the Phnom Penh of the 1980s or 1990s or even, 2005, how does it show itself in your work? Do you think about other eras, other decades in Phnom Penh, when you do the sculpture and printmaking? Or is it more your idea of now and the future?

KONG VOLLAK

In 2007 I start to create my artwork where I use the city and the building to inspire me. Because I’m thinking it’s going to change very fast. From 2007 I start to look around the city and, one year later, I start to look around the city again and some places disappear and some grow up. And every year I used to look around the city, everything is changed, changed a lot. So, I just make my artwork for the future. I got the idea from the past, and I thinking in the present, with the environment that I see that I stay with for now, and I create something for the future. And the future is imagination. It can be or cannot.

INTERVIEWER

And we all have to imagine, because our human imaginations are helping to create the future. Is there anything, when you would look around in 2007, is there anything that disappeared that really surprised you or made you upset?

KONG VOLLAK

Yes, of course, some place that they already break down. Like, it’s not mine, but I’m sad a little bit about that. Because this is the city I grow up. And we live together in the city, we would like the city beautiful, fresh. Is like example the old buildings break down, so how is the young generation, when they grow up? Of course they want to do research about old Phnom Penh, how it look like, but everything is lost. Just the documents. Just the photography. A little bit. And how can they imagine the real thing? I have the idea like the City Hall should have the plan for creating the huge market, about old Phnom Penh. Because the old building was broke down, so they should give this to the public to see.

INTERVIEWER

Is there anything new in terms of architecture in Phnom Penh that inspires you? Anything?

KONG VOLLAK

Not yet. Because you know the building is just the same. Because I thought Phnom Penh is [one of the last capital cities in Southeast Asia] to make high buildings, modern buildings, so the [new buildings] should be more modern than this.

INTERVIEWER

Not like the Vattanac Bank Building. More sophisticated? I also read you said, “My inspiration is the buildings, the messy wires.” So I see the string and wire sculptures in the next room. Where did the inspiration come to you for the wires? Is it the electricity?

KONG VOLLAK

Yes, the wires is from the electricity, also the wire that I make for the sculpture instillation come from when we build a house, yeah when we build a house we use a lot of metal . . . That is, I get the idea from this.

INTERVIEWER

Like metal or bamboo. The grid, the construction scaffolding. I see the grid shape in your sculptures in the next room. The electrical wiring in this city is crazy. I’ve seen electricians in Phnom Penh leaning their ladders against the electric wires in order to repair them. Have you seen that?

KONG VOLLAK

I saw something, oh my god, when I drive my motorbike under that I’m so scared!

INTERVIEWER

How does it work? How does it all not come down? It’s very intense.

KONG VOLLAK

But [the wires] are very strong.

PRESS KIT