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EUROPEAN CIVIL PROTECTION AND HUMANITARIAN AID OPERATIONS
Stories from the field

Battamb’Art

Elettra TAVIANUCCI in Cambodia
Organisation
Fundación Alianza por los Derechos, la Igualdad y la Solidaridad Internacional
About the Project
Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPSA) or “The Brightness of the Arts” is a non-profit Cambodian association improving the lives of children, young adults, and their families with art schools, educational programs, and social support since 1994.

How do you say Beautiful in your language? Here, in Cambodia, we say Sart, but only for one week, we have been saying S’Art.

S’Art Urban Art Festival is the first festival about art and beauty held in Battambang city from the 28th of May until the 1st of June 2019. It is a play on the words Sart (means beautiful in Khmer) and Art, the combination of the two means the beauty of Urban Art. The festival aimed to promote Battambang as an important city for Khmer culture including food, fashion, murals, circus performances and hip hop workshops. Phare Ponleu Selpak organized this event in order to create more meaningful social impact and play a bigger role in arts and culture education, promotion and development.

Me, as EUAID volunteer, have been working in the field to monitoring every activity. Interviews and direct observation were my main tool to evaluate the whole event and be able to understand which areas were for improvement and which ones didn’t need any changes for the future. Thanks also to the support of my EUAID colleagues, who, thrilled by the event, had the chance to work inside from the festival exposing their professional skills.

The whole event was held in different spots of the city, inside Phare Ponleu Selpak campus, in art galleries, cafés, gardens, open spaces and narrow alleys. It was like Battambang was alive, full of colors, full of sounds, music, people chatting and roaring motorbikes. All the five senses were on.

Imagine to be overwhelmed by colors, sounds, scents, flavors, during 4 days, from the first lights in the morning until the city sleeps, day after day. Everything has a different taste, even the roads we were used to taking looked different, it looked like they belonged to the Art.

This happened for 4 days, until the last one came, the Giant Puppet Parade. It was the explosion of all the sensations we felt during all week. Giant Puppets, made by bamboo sticks and colored papers, were strolling around the city lit up from the inside, accompanied by live music and hundreds and hundreds of people dancing along the way.

Art exploded. Battambang was invaded by positives vibes, freedom, happiness and lightness of minds.

Here in Battambang, Art is used as a way to overcome the destruction of the past. Every single creation is realized looking towards the past and the future. The murals in the city, the artists’ performances and the paintings from Phare students, are saying that Khmer know what they have lived, for this reason they want to change the future. Their resilience is made by art.

After one week of interviews and talks with people, I understood how the lightness of living the life is important. Most of the time people did not even know what was happening in their own city, but did not matter, nevertheless they went out from their home and joined it. There were artists drawing walls with striking colors, there were balloons for children, there were circus students performing in the park in the city along with hip hop dancers. This was enough to enjoy and take part of it.

If it is what Art should be, please non don’t stop making noise.

S’Art Urban Art Festival is the first festival about art and beauty held in Battambang city from the 28th of May until the 1st of June 2019
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