boy bang by Viet Le and live music by Cartoon Emo

Viet Lê: boy bang!

Exhibition opening with special guest band Cartoon Emo: Thursday, November 4, 2010; 6pm exhibition opening and 7:30pm concert
Artist talk: 6:00pm Sunday, November 14
FREE entrance for both events

Java Café & Gallery – 56 Sihanouk Blvd, Phnom Penh, Cambodia


Viet Lê, a conceptual artist currently living in Phnom Penh, will be presenting his first solo show in the Kingdom of Wonder, boy bang, at Java Café and Gallery in November 2010.

The boy bang/ gang band project consists of campy images of fake Asian boy bands and solo performers in various personas and costumes which examines the borders of spectacle, (homoerotic) desire and audience. Through the creation of faux boy bands and stars, he questions the boundaries of community and identity. 

Lê states, “Almost everywhere in the countryside and the city in Cambodia, Viet Nam and Thailand one can hear the latest Korean pop hit, pumping hip hop rhythms, or cover songs of stars such as Akon echoing from cell phones, nightclubs, pools and pool halls.” In this ongoing photographic series (2008-2010), the artist explores the explosion of pop culture (music, films, soap operas) in contemporary Cambodia, Japan, Viet Nam, China, Korea, among other Asian countries. Further blurring the line between fiction and reality, Cambodian boy band Cartoon Emo will be rocking live at the opening. 

 “Solo acts and boy bands such as Jay Chou, Fahrenheit, Rain, Super Junior have legions of local and international fans, ranging from screaming teeny boppers to desperate housewives and queer eyes for these (questionably) straight guys,” observes Lê. He continues, “Gay Asian porn magazines and DVD covers have aped the look of boy band CD covers and posters, redefining the term heart throb.” The images from the series look like posters of all sizes for concert tours, movies, and so on—a teen’s dream, but with a critical edge. 

The artist states, “I’m interested in desire, especially what the nation-state desires and what consumers desire. These desires are reflected in pop culture.” He asserts that pop may also be a way of addressing the twin traumas of modernization and history. Through parody and word play, the series deals with issues of cross-cultural translation, mistranslation and the blurred boundaries of desire. 

Lê’s artwork has been exhibited at the Banff Centre, Canada; DoeBaeBasca Gallery, Seoul; Laguna Art Museum, USA; among other international venues. He has received fellowships from Civitella Ranieri Foundation (Italy), the Center for Khmer Studies (Cambodia), Banff Centre (Canada), Fulbright-Hays (Vietnam), Fine Arts Work Center (USA), and PEN Center USA. 

Dates: November 4 – November 28, 2010
Hours: Monday-Sunday, 7 am – 10 pm

Opening Reception:
Date: Thursday, November 4, 2010
Time: 6 – 9 pm

For Further Information, Please Contact Viet Lê:; tel. +855 89882340

Dana Langlois, Director
+855 12 894 180,

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