Khvay Samnang: Calling for Rain

Khvay Samnang: Calling for Rain
Date 20th Nov 2021 - 27th Mar 2022 Price Free Location Tramway
4 of 5 "one of those moments which synthesise real and imagined worlds and make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck" -Susan Mansfield, The Scotsman

Mondays - CLOSED
Tuesday - Friday 12 noon - 5pm
Saturday and Sunday 12 noon - 6pm

Following COP 2021 Tramway’s main gallery presents a new work for children and young people by Phnom Penh, Cambodia-based artist Khvay Samnang. 

Khvay Samnang (b. 1982) is a visual storyteller whose works at the intersection of art and social justice. Intrinsic to his work is his personal and direct engagement with local communities. For over a decade Khvay’s works have examined the relationship between humans and nature through the lens of Cambodia’s environmental crisis. Khvay draws on spiritual ecologies to express the humantitarian challenges faced by these communities in contemporary times who are losing their lands and traditions due to deforestation, unchecked development, land grabbing and forced population displacement.

Combining poetry, ritual, dance and film, Samnang creates powerful and hopeful narratives of resistance in order to address urgent environmental issues. Through storytelling and playful humour, his work explores the deep spiritual and sacred links between nature and humans, often informed by ancient mythologies and indigenous cultures within Cambodia. Essential to his work is the use of the body and gesture and he regularly collaborates with performer Rady Net who is trained in the indigenous classical dance form ‘Lakhon Koal’. Situating his performances in areas under threat of environmental devastation, Khvay develops rituals to embody forms of resistance and collective action.

In this new exhibition Khvay presents his 2021 film ‘Calling For Rain’ at the heart of an immersive, environment incorporating sculpture and photography. The exhibition includes the masks woven from forest vines originally worn by performers. The film itself follows the story of ‘Reamar’, the Cambodian version of the epic Ancient Indian poem Ramayana and features a cast of animal spirits who also represent different symbolic actors in the narrative of climate change. The story starts after Kiri The Monkey meets and falls in love with Kongea The Fish, and depicts the struggles they must then overcome after the loss of his home in the forest. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the problems of the forest and its surrounding fields and rivers are linked to the irresponsible behaviours of the Fire Dragon.

'Calling for Rain' (2021) was commissioned for the Children's Biennale, by the National Gallery of Singapore

All images show the installation at Tramway.
Photography by Keith Hunter

Film (below) by Natalie McGowan

Watch Now

In response to this exhibition, storyteller Kamini Ramachandran takes you on a wild adventure of intrigue and heroism entitled 'The Monkey God and the Mermaid'. This tale is inspired by the Reamker, the Cambodian version of the epic poem Ramayana.

Watch the video below, which is captioned and BSL interpreted:

A gallery space displaying a video of figures in straw masks and traditional Cambodian costume, behind an artificial wall of rain
Two straw masks displayed against a photo of a rocky landscape
A close up of straw masks displayed in a gallery space
A gallery space displaying a collection of dramatically lit straw masks