Khiev Kanel


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Artist Biography

“The White Building, or the Bodeng as it is commonly known, is a municipal apartment built in 1963 located in the heart of Phnom Penh. As a symbol of modernism in Cambodia, this building served as accommodation for low-income teachers, artists, and government officers. From 1975 to 1979, the White Building was abandoned but was re-occupied by former and new tenants after the victory over the Khmer Rouge Regime in 1979. People living there don't like to tell others that they are residents of the White Building as outsiders only see the dark side of this building. In contrast, I felt it to be a home of harmony. When I first stepped into this building, I felt it had a peaceful and familial atmosphere. However, according to the government's urbanization plan, the White Building will soon be replaced by a 21-storey building. The demolition will have an emotional, economic and social impact on the people living there. This is my attempt to record the history of the White Building, the youth, the artists going through their lives within a fading historical space that may soon be gone, but hopefully not forgotten.”

Documenting the spaces and the daily life in the White Building, Khiev Kanel built a memory of what’s now gone in the heart of the capital. His color pictures without effect, his attention to details, to the gestures of the people, to the atmosphere, are now a document for History.

Khiev Kanel was born in 1988 in Phnom Penh. He graduated in Computer Science and Auditing but he turned to photography in 2013. He works on photography, moving image and performance. Kanel’s art practice focus on personal stories, environment, economic and social issues. His personal work expresses self-depression and fragile feeling from the loss of family members which could resonate with other people who experience similar issues. His other strand of work concerns social oppression, social justice and human rights, including the problems generated by urbanization and environmental degradation such as eviction, land right and pollutions (water, air, noise, and light).

Khiev Kanel has been exhibited widely in Cambodia and regionally. His recent solo exhibition “Staircases”, Java Art Gallery Touk Kork , Phnom Penh(2018). His film screened for Cultural Season 2023 is “Pineapple Eyes III,” IFC Cinema, Phnom Penh (2023). Select recent group exhibitions and performances include “Pineapple Eyes II”, Art Fair Philippines (2021); “Pineapple Eyes II”, Julius Baer Next Generation Art Prize Winners Exhibition (2021), Singapore; Soft Opening Celebration and Fundraiser of STP (Silapak Trotchaek Pneik 2021), Sa Sa Fundraising Auction & Exhibition (2020), Phnom Penh 40 years (2020), Riverside Walk-way; Future Light (2019), Futures Factory, Phnom Penh; Immerse (2018), Sa Sa Art Projects; “Plastic Kingdom”, Meta House, Phnom Penh; “Being No one and Going Nowhere”, Festival Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan; “We Will Have Been Young”, Ilham Gallery, Kuala Lumpur (2017-2018); Mabini Projects, Manila; Komunitas Salihara, Jakarta; NU Art Sculpture Park, Bandung; Objectifs - Centre for Photography and Film, Singapore; Hin Bus, Penang; Body of Sorrow, Sa Sa Art Projects, Phnom Penh; “Remains” pop up exhibition, Kon Leng Khnhom, Phnom Penh (2018); and “Bricks”, Photo Phnom Penh 2017, French Institute, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He was part in 2021 of Art Fair Philippines.

Khiev Kanel is a recipient of Creative Generation Award 2018 from Java and The Best Performance Award 2018 (with collaborator YON Davy) from the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.

About Artist work

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