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SATURDAY 15 DECEMBER 2012 6:00-7:30pm

Please join us for a conversation with exhibiting artist Vandy Rattana about his current work Surface + the screening of Paris Syndrome by John Menick.

Vandy Rattana, France, 2010

About Surface (2012)
Surface is a series of thirty-three photographs selected from a diary of images taken between 2010-2012 while the artist was living in Paris and touring Europe. Surface follows Vandy's acclaimed Bomb Ponds series, from which it also seemingly departs however is inextricably linked. The artist's confrontation with the physical and psychological scars of the American bombing provoked a shift in philosophy surrounding the relationship between historiography and image making. Photographs, for Vandy, became fiction. No longer representative of reality, the artist constructed surfaces of public and private life and space in environments alien to him, unified and defined primarily by composition - a way of seeing as an extension of a way of thinking. Surface is accompanied by the artist's text, drawn from his encounters photographing, in which repeat encounters with blindness and death symbolize limitations of perception, ignorance and freedom.

About Vandy Rattana
Vandy Rattana (born 1980, Phnom Penh) lives and works between Phnom Penh, Paris and Taipei. His serial work employs a range of analog cameras and formats, straddling the line between strict documentary and artistic practice. Select exhibitions include: dOCUMENTA(13), The Best of Times, The Worst of Times, Kiev Biennale (2012), Poetic Politic, Kadist Foundation, USA (2012), Between Utopias and Dystopias, Museum University for Contemporary Art, Mexico City (2011); Bomb Ponds, SA SA BASSAC, Phnom Penh (2011), 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT6).

Still from Paris Syndrome by John Menick

About Paris Syndrome (2010, 27 minutes)
In the fall of 2006, several US and UK newspapers ran stories concerning psychological breakdowns experienced by Japanese citizens traveling in Paris, France. In an average of a dozen cases a year, Japanese travelers would undergo extreme depression and cultural rejection, sometimes culminating in hallucinations and traumatic shock. The most extreme cases were repatriated permanently to Japan. According to these articles, it was Professor Hiroaki Ota, a Japanese psychiatrist living in France, who was the first to identify this condition as "Paris Syndrome."

Journalists located the syndrome's origins in the cultural differences between France and Japan. Japanese travelers often held idealistic views of Paris, mostly concerning culturally specific expectations of service industry customs, societal manners, and urban hygiene. When Paris did not live up to these expectations, a small group of travelers would descend into depression. Often, depression turned into psychosis, and lead to medical treatment. The cultural shock has been so regular that, as reported by the BBC, the Japanese embassy in Japan created a 24-hour hotline for those suffering from the syndrome.

Paris Syndrome is a short, cinematic essay analyzing the cultural implications of travel-related mental illnesses. The project places the syndrome within an ongoing history of cross-cultural relations; the emergence of a global tourist industry; and the creation of psychiatric schools of thought devoted to inter-cultural relations. In addition to the Parisian illness, Paris Syndrome also looks at a number of related issues: Stendhal Syndrome, an ailment experienced by traveling viewers of art (identified in Florence, Italy); the history of psychiatric portraiture; 19th-century mad travelers; and the changes in travel-related mental illnesses throughout history.

About John Menick
John Menick makes films and audio works, writes essays and short stories, and occasionally makes prints and drawings. These works are often populated by wandering detectives, duplicitous storytellers, homeless documentarians, mad travelers, and institutionalized cinephiles. His artwork has been shown at dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel; MoMA PS1, New York; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; CCA Wattis, San Francisco; Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis; and Artists Space, New York. His writing has appeared in Frieze, Mousse, and Art in America. Menick has received grants from the Jerome Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts, and he is a visiting professor of film and video at the Cooper Union in New York.