The Buddhist Bug returns home to Cambodia

Performance + Exhibition

6-9pm Friday, March 1, 2013

Java Gallery (upstairs)

56 Sihanouk Blvd, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The Buddhist Bug Project is the concept of artist Anida Yoeu Ali, and
a project of Studio Revolt. In the artist statement she explains:
“The Buddhist Bug Project seeks to map a new spiritual and social
landscape through its surreal existence amongst ordinary people and
everyday environments. The Buddhist Bug is a fantastic saffron-colored
creature that can span the length of a 30-metre bridge or coil into a
small orange ball. Rooted in an autobiographical exploration of
identity, the Bug comes from the artist’s own spiritual turmoil
between Islam and Buddhism. Set amongst everyday people in ordinary
moments, the Bug provokes obvious questions of belonging and

The Bug is an other-worldly creature with bright orange “skin” the
color of Buddhist monk robes with a head piece based on the Islamic
hijab. Together with photographer Masahiro Sugano (her creative
partner from Studio Revolt), Anida brought the Bug to Cambodia, the
country of her birth and of the Bug. She created a series of
site-specific performances, inserting the Bug into urban and rural
landscapes, resulting in humorous and surreal scenarios.

The Buddhist Bug will be exhibited online at the Philanthropic Museum,
in collaboration with its founder and curator Patricia Levasseur de la
Motte. For additional details, Patricia can be contacted at
, and more info found here

Artist statement

The Bug is a creation inspired by two reasons (1) my personal
inability to reconcile my fascination with Buddhism alongside my
upbringing as a Khmer Muslim woman and (2) an attempt to capture a
quickly changing Cambodian urban and rural landscape. The project is a
culmination of my thematic interest in hybridity, transcendence, and
otherness. Through an interdisciplinary approach, my work maps new
political and spiritual landscapes. Meters and meters of textile act
as skin, as a way for the surface of my body to extend into public
spaces, and as a metaphoric device for stories to spread across an

For me, the Bug is created from a sense of play and curiosity. S/he is
a displaced creature destined to travel and wander amidst the
“in-between”. This space, which exists between who s/he is and
where s/he is, is in fact a powerful place for encounter, habitation
and reinvention. The Bug is created as an assertion of paradoxes, a
result of a hybrid refugee experience, embodying the fluctuating
inside/outside perspective of the transnational being. S/he longs for
stillness while on a constant journey. S/he is a source for refuge
while on a perpetual search for home. S/he is both a bridge and
obstacle. S/he is a creature belonging in this world yet appearing to
be from another universe.

At the heart of my work is an interest in developing stories, usually
narratives that exist outside of conventions. The Buddhist Bug Project
continues a methodology in which personal narratives shape my art. I
believe performing narratives is an act of social engagement that
contributes to collective healing. For me, performance and
storytelling become ways of bridging the interior and exterior space
of self as well as initiate critical dialogues between communities and
institutions. My interdisciplinary works attempt to find crucial
intersections between performing narratives and audience engagement.

Artist bio

Anida Yoeu Ali (b.1974, Battambang) is an artist whose works span
performance, installation, video, poetry, public encounters, and
political agitation. She is a first generation Muslim Khmer woman born
in Cambodia and raised in Chicago. After residing for over three
decades outside of Cambodia, Ali returned to work in Phnom Penh as
part of her 2011 U.S. Fulbright Fellowship. Utilizing an
interdisciplinary approach to artmaking, her installation and
performance works investigate the artistic, spiritual and political
collisions of a hybrid transnational identity. From the Faroe Islands
to the Bronx, Copenhagen to Ho Chi Minh City, she lectures, exhibits
and performs internationally. Her pioneering work with the critically
acclaimed group I Was Born With Two Tongues (1998-2003) is archived
with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program and the
Hemispheric Institute Digital Video Library . Her artistic work has
been the recipient of grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, Ford
Foundation, the National Endowment of the Arts and the Illinois Arts
Council. Anida earned her B.F.A. from University of Illinois
(Urbana-Champaign) and an M.F.A. in from School of the Art Institute
Chicago. She is a collaborative partner with Studio Revolt, an
independent artist run media lab in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Studio
Revolt’s short film about Cambodian American deportations, “My Asian
Americana” (2011), won the public vote for the White House “What’s
Your Story Video Challenge” but was controversially dismissed by
contest organizers. In 2013, she will embark on the “Generation
Return: Art and Justice Tour” presenting and discussing her works
about contemporary justice and its residual effects on the Cambodian
American experience. Anida continues to make art and raise her family
in Phnom Penh, a city once home to her father.

Exhibition details

The Buddhist Bug Project

Anida Yoeu Ali

A project of Studio Revolt

March 1 – April 7, 2013

Java Gallery (upstairs)

56 Sihanouk Blvd, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Open daily 7am – 10pm

Free entrance

Studio Revolt is an independent artist run media lab that produces
films, videos, installations and performance projects in Phnom Penh,
Cambodia. The media lab serves as a collaborative space for
performance artist Anida Yoeu Ali and filmmaker Masahiro Sugano.
Together their works open up possibilities for people to exist outside
of conventional narratives. Studio Revolt takes it a step further by
urging viewers to become participants and stake their claim in this

This exhibition has been supported in part and is presented by
JavaArts. JavaArts is a cultural enterprise that was launched in
partnership with Java Café & Gallery in the year 2000 in Phnom Penh,
where it operates a gallery and arts lab. Supported by the café and
gallery activities, JavaArts is a platform for the development of
contemporary visual arts in Cambodia. It is directed by its founder,
Dana Langlois, curator and creative producer.

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