Featured Artist – Anida Yoeu Ali

Campus Dining - The Buddhist Bug Series, Digital C print, 2012

Campus Dining – The Buddhist Bug Series, Digital C print, 2012

Anida Yoeu Ali (b.1974, Battambang) is an artist whose works span performance, installation, video, images, public encounters, and political agitation. She is a first generation Muslim Khmer woman born in Cambodia and raised in Chicago. After residing for over three decades outside of Cambodia, Ali returned to work in Phnom Penh as part of her 2011 U.S. Fulbright Fellowship. Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach to artmaking, her installation and performance works investigate the artistic, spiritual and political collisions of a hybrid transnational identity.

Spiral-Alley, The Buddhist Bug Series, Digital C print, 2012

Spiral-Alley, The Buddhist Bug Series, Digital C print, 2012

The Buddhist Bug or The Bug is an ambitious body of work that continues my exploration of diasporic identities. My works attempt to find crucial intersections between performing narratives and audience engagement. The Bug is a creation inspired by two threads (1) a personal inability to reconcile my fascination with Buddhism alongside my upbringing as a Khmer Muslim woman and (2) an attempt to capture a quickly changing Cambodian urban and rural landscape. The project is a culmination of thematic interests in hybridity, transcendence, and otherness. Through an interdisciplinary approach, my work maps new political and spiritual landscapes. Meters and meters of textile act as skin, as a way for the surface of my body to extend into public spaces, and as a metaphoric device for stories to spread across an expanse. For me, the Bug is created from a sense of play and curiosity. S/he is a displaced creature destined to travel and wander amidst the “in-between”. This space, which exists between who s/he is and where s/he is, is in fact a powerful place for encounter, habitation and reinvention.

Oxcart Grazing, The Buddhist Bug Series, Digital C print, 2014

Oxcart Grazing, The Buddhist Bug Series, Digital C print, 2014

The Bug is a fantastic saffron-colored creature that can span the length of a 40-metre bridge or coil into a small orange ball. Rooted in an autobiographical exploration of identity, the Bug comes from the artist’s own spiritual turmoil between Islam and Buddhism. Set amongst everyday people in ordinary moments, the Bug provokes obvious questions of belonging and my displacement. Each vignette presents a moment of real life with the element of the Bug making each frame more surreal and provocative. Consistent throughout this series is the unique combination of humor and otherness. The project reflects the artist’s personality, one that combines humor, performance, science fiction and a love of everyday culture into moments that transcend the ordinary.

Offerings, The Buddhist Bug Series, Digital C print, 2014

Offerings, The Buddhist Bug Series, Digital C print, 2014

At the heart of my work is an interest in developing stories, usually narratives that exist outside of conventions. The Buddhist Bug Project continues a methodology in which personal narratives shape my art. I believe performing narratives is an act of social engagement that contributes to collective healing. For me, performance and storytelling become ways of bridging the interior and exterior space of self as well as initiate critical dialogues between communities and institutions. My interdisciplinary works attempt to find crucial intersections between performing narratives and audience engagement.

Read more about Anida Yoeu Ali on her website: http://www.anidaali.com/