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Calling Cambodia: An Exhibition Of Mixed-Media Installation

  • Sivone Brahm

Amy Sanford, born Ly Sundary put up an exhibition of mixed-media installation and photographs in Laconia gallery, Boston, Massachussets from the beginning of May until the end of June.

The theme of this exhibition is :Calling Cambodia. Amy Sanford seeks to reconnect with her father, Ly Chamlorng, killed in the Khmer Rouge regime. Amy's desire to connect with her father whom she never knew through indivudual written letters that combine to form the exhibit.

One of the letters says: Papa, I wish I can telephone you, but I do not know how to dial the past. Amy says that the letters are a series of ideas, emotions, questions that she wishes to share with her father at the present time, even when he was dead, and that it is a way of keeping her father alive in her memory again.

Amy Sanford searches for the past which she has never known and her yearning to know a father who nurtured her, and saved her life by sending her to live with his American friend and his spouse, her adopted parents when she was only two years and a half old.

Her artistic work is made up of over 50 hand-crafted letters written on copper foil. Each printed message is meticulously hand-stamped to contain questions from the present, to understand the past.

The questions reflect Amy's frame of mind, so normal to Khmer Rouge regime's victims: what really happened to their loved ones, and where are their remains?

The messages in the letters are wrapped and protected in copper wire nests suspended in mid-air throughout the gallery.

The sea of floating nests invite viewers to walk through and read each message.

The copper wire nests are 14 centimeters in diameter, and they are at different levels. The suspended wires reflect her suspended emotions, emotions which cannot be developed, and these emotions torture her, they are suspended in time...

The idea of writing these letters is a way for Amy to work through her emotions of missing her father, of loss and a way to try to evolve these feelings to something more positive, a psychological therapy in the Western world, being in a process of freeing herself. In Amy's own words, her feelings are universal, feelings that anybody who experiences loss due to war can identify with those letters.

The young artist says that at the opening reception of her exhibit May 5, persons after persons went to her with heartfelt words how these pieces affect them, and thought of relatives who died, or they know someone who is missing and lost.

She says that those letters touch everybody. She says that one Irish woman went to her, and she was very emotional. The woman told Amy that lost her father, a fisherman, drown at sea, when she was 12 years old.

Amy's letters are the woman's messages which she wanted to send to her father. Amy's exhibition is accompanied by a series of photographs of Cambodia by photograper, Bill Moore.

Amy Sanford's artistic talent includes sculptures, 3 dimentional, with woods, metals, and ceramics. Her installation uses sounds of ksedied, and bathed in golden color, depicting the sunset, as the sun starts to set, a suspended moment...