A-N-T-O-P-I-A PHNOM PENH is an innovative participatory installation and performance that was proposed by Carlo Santoro and curated by Meta House Phnom Penh and Metaestetica Lab. The event took place on Saturday, 25 February 2023, as part of the European Film Festival Closing Gala at the Perch @ M Residence, located on the 36th floor of 10 Samdach Louis Em St., in Phnom Penh.
The installation and performance sought to explore the marginal spaces that are emerging from the construction of Phnom Penh, Cambodia's modern capital. Through a combination of videos, animated images, metal sculptures, paintings, performances, and other artwork, the creators aimed to shed light on the spaces that are rapidly changing and are often overlooked by society.
Visitors to the event were invited to join the haunting figures created by the artists' minds and interpreted through their performances. The collective work came to life as visitors wandered among the art installations, observing and experiencing the unique character of the spaces depicted.
The name of the installation, A-N-T-O-P-I-A, derives from the Greek words "an-" meaning "deprived" and "tópos" meaning "locality." The name was chosen to complement the terms "Utopia," "Dystopia," and "Atopias." The creators of the installation sought to convey the idea that the spaces they explored were neither purely urban nor natural. Instead, they were a combination of the two, with their identities often not immediately evident.
Contributors to A-N-T-O-P-I-A PHNOM PENH included Marcel Camus, Chanrado Sok, Kongkea Vann, Pisey Kosal, Miguel Jeronimo, David Brown, Gregory Gosselin, Théo Vallier, Vannak Khun, Eriq Henri Madsen, Jean-Pascal Vittori, Tony Lefferts, and several DJs, including DJ Oil, DJ Sao Sopheak, DJ Lefty, and Nick E. Meta. The event was made possible through the support of several organizations, including ICBA Arts Committee, CINE HUB, KUDU Studios, Replik, Space Four Zero, Gregory Gosselin Art and Steel Studio, and Eriq Henri Arts.
A-N-T-O-P-I-A PHNOM PENH was a unique and thought-provoking event that brought together a diverse range of artwork and performances to explore the complex and changing spaces of Phnom Penh. The installation and performance were successful in highlighting the importance of these spaces and the need for society to recognize and preserve them. The event was a testament to the power of art to inspire and engage people in meaningful conversations about the world around them.