Asian Heritage Month-CFACI | Virtual Museum of Asian Canadian Cultural Heritage (VMACCH)

LinDa Saphan

LinDa Saphan

Arts & Expression, Southeast Asian, Visual Art

I was born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in 1975. Fleeing the Khmer Rouge regime, my family took up residence in Canada. I went on to graduate from the University of Paris X in 2007 with a PhD in Social Anthropology and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Khmer Studies.

I became an artist when I did my PhD field research in Cambodia. I was very much inspired by the culture and urban texture of Phnom Penh. The possibilities offered by the country gave me the courage to fully express myself as an artist.

My art work presents myself as an artist who is not distanced from contemporary society. I am very much at home in my own time and comfortable with the many lifestyles and resulting imaginations that exist. My work expresses an awareness of participating in a new, developing and active world full of possibilities as well as of contradictions and paradoxes. The issues raised by my art works depict the variety of today’s culture and its fascinating, rich and complex appearance, which is both global and particularly local, endlessly repetitive and endlessly differentiated. While visual aspects are the dominant dimension of this world, they are nevertheless inseparably connected to other fields. This is reflected not only in the multitude of sources I take my inspiration from (personal snapshots, old photography from family albums, sign panels’ images etc.), but perhaps no less in the fact that I am myself dealing with other media (drawing, installations, sculpture and photography). In such a world, painting can be only one of several possible and equally interesting creative mediums.

My commitment to the art community

The commitment of my art work is more than a personal identity research, the impact upon the art students and professional artists and among the Cambodian Diasporas overseas is essential in their own reflection of identity. The “khmerness” issues from the Khmer Rouge lead to genocides. Under the years of pro-communism government afterward, censorship was at it fullest. Nowadays, Cambodian people in the country self censor, either out of fear of the future or out of habit of silencing their opinions. To me, it is more than promoting a Cambodian art scene and empowering a culture, it is about free expression wherever you are.

My purpose from the very beginning was to create a binding relationship between artists of different dimensions, connecting them to exhibiting spaces and vice versa, and to show the public the most creative minds working in the visual arts nowadays in Cambodia.

For me, Cambodian art should be considered as contemporary art and not simply as a nationalistic endeavour or as representing ideas of exoticism. Through my website and future curatorial efforts, I seek to exhibit the most prominent Cambodian artists in the country and outside. I also hope to create a sense of art community amongst the visual artists.

The Incognito series

The Incognito series presents Cambodian women under an attractive, rich and complex aspect while at the same time global and particularly local. Khmer society is traditionally constraining, with a constant control of the young people. When they move around town or elsewhere, one pays attention to one’s clothing to avoid getting tanned—Asian society praises a clear complexion. All the protective clothing creates unrecognizable individuals. This anonymity gives a feeling of freedom in the city, contrary to that of Muslim countries where women are masked by tradition. Incognito depicts the Asian woman differently than an exotic and submitted object.


The Virtual Museum of Asian Canadian Cultural Heritage (VMAACH) was made possible with the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Canadian Culture Online Strategy.