White Building Project

White Building Project, made by Hus Chia-Wei in 2016, is a series of videos in a col-laboration with the performance artists who used to live in the White Building in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Cambodia gained independence in 1953 from the coloniza-tion of the French. Three years later, Vann Molyvann, who studied Architecture in Paris, returned to his country and was appointed as Head of Public Works and State Architect. He therefore opened the Golden Age, and supervised the design of many of New Khmer Architecture. The team chose the 24-hectare land along the Bassac River, accomplished an ambitious urban planning project, including the multi-layers and low-cost residential houses and the public buildings, such as the National Theatre Preah Suramarit and the Exhibition Hall.

In 1963, the White Building located in this area inaugurated. With lowest price, it offered 468 units of residents including municipal officers, general officers and teach-ers. The team combined the style of French Minimalism and the concept of Cambodian traditional Stilt house, and constructed this four-floor building along the river. The long arcade extends 325 meter. You can overlook the river, no matter where you are in the building.

In 1975, the soldiers of Khmer Rouge occupied Phnom Penh, the citizens moved away, the White Building was left behind. The ideal of New Khmer Architecture and the Golden Age disappeared. While the Khmer Rouge was in power, 90 percent of artists were executed as the traditional performance art was regarded as a symbol of the old regime. After the collapse of Khmer Rough government, the survival performance artists, were called to live in the White Building. Being through the 50-year, civil war, humidity, fire and lack of fund, this building eventually turned into a grey and worn-out residency for low-income residents with poor facilities.

From the past to the present, the White Building, performance art and politics were closely interwoven. Hus Chia-Wei made a series of videos in response to the White Building with the performance artists. With different places and different performance artists, the ‘performance image’ involving people and space was hence created in the context of the White Building.

Hus Chia-Wei