1961-A A +A
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
"IN THE purest sense of the word, we are not a hotel, but a creative space where one can stay and immerse into a world of artists, poets, musicians and writers. Not only do we allow guests indulge in the artists' worlds, we also encourage them to take part in the process of the creation of the room as a living art space." Loven Ramos.
Loven is Pinoy. I met him years back when he was still based in Makati and working for a hotel management firm. A brilliant graphic artist, he snagged an opportunity to work abroad. Next thing I knew, Loven is splashed all over the web -- in blogs, in online travel magazines and art journals (I'm pretty sure there's a lot more on print all around the globe).
Apparently, his artwork went beyond the canvas. He opened a hotel (but he never refers to it as such) and turned every part of the "living space" as his canvas and named this art piece "1961".
"1961 is primarily an address for art. Housed in a 1960's style villa which was formerly a private home turned into a local karaoke bar and then now being resurrected into a creative complex comprising of a series of galleries, artists' and designers' studios, dining and shopping destinations including an eight-room "creative hotel", 1961 came to us as an inspiration to the "nowness" of how we all imagined the future to be in the sixties. The decade of revolutions in art, fashion, architecture, politics, and music, the 60s was also Cambodia's golden age," shared Loven.
It has been a work in progress since its conception. The rooms are artistic expressions of 1961's guests and are called galleries, pretty much like independent exhibition halls we see in a museum.
The "Kennedy's Gallery" was created by artist Rachel Faller. It's looking into the lives of the sixties Camelot through the eyes of American pop culture. Her installation - handcrafted quilted blankets, pillows and artworks - portrays a vibrant mix of wit and politics.
Russian artist Inal Kabaloev created The "Cold War Gallery". He re-interprets the rivalry between the two world superpowers through metaphorical photographs of Russian countryside and rural United States through his concept entitled propaganda.
Then there are the "The Sinn Sisamouth & Ros Sereysothea Gallery", named after the Khmer music icons of the 60's, this room pays homage to them; "The Norodom's Gallery", a pop tribute to the fascinating lives of Cambodia's crown bearers; and, "The Wong Char Wai Gallery", A tribute to our favorite Chinese director whose nostalgic films imbibe the universal language of love, lust and loss.
Recently, two more "galleries" were created to accommodate the growing clientele of 1961- "The Kep & Kampot Gallery", inspired by the seaside town of Kep & the riverside setting of Kampot; and, "The Yellow Submarine Gallery" honoring the Beatles.
Gallery V is the artist's nest. This is where all the temporary exhibitions, poetry reading, music, dance and other artistic expressions are regularly held, where artists from all over converge and share their minds.
Sadly, if you're looking for a restaurant in this place, you won't find any. But there at the corner of the property is a museum-- The Muesum of Forgotten Dreams". Here "breakfast, light snacks and cocktails are the main events." Talk about "temporary exhibition", art on a plate that doesn't last long. Consumable art?
It was a very short visit for me to see Loven and his much-talked about "canvas". On my next trip to Siem Reap, this is where I'm going to stay.
Meanwhile, let me take home something from Loven's gallery.
1961 is at Osaphear Street, Upper West Side, River Road, Siem Reap, Kingdom of Cambodia (beside River Garden and the other side of the river fronting Wat Enkosa). Visit their website at http://www.the1961.com/
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on November 01, 2012.