We really like Cambodia, and the people we have met are lovely, but it appears that bureaucrats transcend international boundaries and culture. In the Friday, December 18 issue of The Phnom Penh Post, I read that a street art mural in Phnom Penh, by California artist El Mac (Miles MacGregor) had been painted over. The mural depicted seamstress Moeun Thary (a resident of the building), who sews dresses for traditional dancers, and was framed with designs used in her dresses. It was painted over because (allegedly) the city had received an application for permission but it hadn’t yet been approved.
Okay, regrettable and another example of the bureaucracy at work. But what really struck me was a quote by village chief Hun Sarath who said she didn’t like the mural because the subject was not famous or well respected. “iIf they want to represent Cambodian culture in such a prominent way, they should paint more well-known or experienced people ..”
I guess in Cambodia only well-known people are deemed suitable for street art murals. It is fortunate for us there are bureaucrats who are willing to save us from inappropriate art.