The Art of Living Together
Rosewood Phnom Penh presents “Complementarity”, a multidisciplinary art exhibition that celebrates the “Art of Living Together” through greater compassion, empathy, and harmony. On display will be works of two local Cambodian artists, Adana Mam Legros and Tytaart, who are passionate about sharing their vision with the world.
Guided by the overarching concept of Complementarity, the dynamic exhibition explores 11 thought-provoking themes, ranging from Human Chaos to Femininity and Masculinity, Violence, in Contrast, Parenthood, Empathy / Compassion, and Vulnerability. Together, these themes support the artists’ dream for a more supportive and caring world, where humans work together and thrive together.
Art with a Purpose
Born and bred in Cambodia, Adana finds inspiration from many sources – her parents’ activism work, neuroscience, philosophy, sociology, and her personal battle with cancer. Passionate about humanitarian work from a young age, the visionary believes art and activism go hand in hand and it seems curators agree: Adana’s geometric acrylic paintings have been exhibited all over the world, including New York, Paris, Australia, Brussels, and Bangkok.
Tytaart, a respected Phnom Penh-based portrait artist, has joined forces with Adana to bring “Complementarity” to life. The local artist specializes in fine art photography, capturing incredibly intimate and evocative portraits of women in photographic series. From friends to total strangers, Tytaart depicts the visceral emotions and raw beauty of her subjects, while playing with natural light and shadows to create unexpected compositions.
A New Generation of Cambodians
During the exhibition, Adana Mam Legros will officially launch another project: Generation C Cambodia. With the “C” standing for Convivialism (the art of living together), the socially driven artistic movement aims to encourage new ways of thinking, placing a greater emphasis on collaboration, compassion, and social responsibility. And to add another layer of collaboration and excitement, the artists have invited two other Cambodia-based fashion designers, Eric Raisina and Romyda Keth, to showcase a collection of 10 exquisite dresses.
Pandora’sBox: Human Chaos
In Greek mythology, Pandora’s box contained all the evils of humankind. Among the poisons released by Pandora are ageing, sickness, war, famine, misery, madness, vice, deception and passion.
“Our modern global industrial society is creating some of the very same sorts of environmental problems that caused ancient societies to fail, plus four new ones: human-caused climate change, buildup of toxic chemicals in the environment, energy shortages and full human utilization of the earth’s photosynthetic capacity […]
How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed? ‘’
Historian & Anthropologist
Our problems are solvable, it will all depend on our choices: courageous successful long-term planning, changing our values, curbing our mania for continuous economic growth. It all starts with each one of us. What do you choose?
Adana Mam Legros
Violence in contrast
“([Our notions of violence in society)] reveal above all a psychological and social pathology, which requires care and serious reflection on our priorities. The increase in violence that we observe in Western societies, regardless of age, gender, and social context, is perhaps related to a growing inability to endure the duties society brings upon us and a concerning propensity to confuse universal rights and individual desires. In these conditions, we should question our growing inability to endure frustrations and control our aggressiveness. It is our education that is in question, not our principles. That has to be changed. For about thirty years, personal development and personal self-satisfaction have taken precedence over respect for others and the common law. This concerns both men and women and has nothing to do with what is happening in other parts of the world where, on the contrary, the law holding back individual and personal development simply makes no sense. In truth, our societies need to re-learn the notion of duty as much as others, in order to claim our rights. By wanting at all costs to confuse the two contexts, we condemn ourselves not only to powerlessness, but also to injustice. By continually raising awareness about ‘gender violence,’ we are guilty of a new sexism which is no more acceptable than what came before.”
Philosopher, author and historian
Convivialis, from Latin, relates to the act of living together, eating together and complementing each others’ lives. It corresponds to an attitude, a behavior, a doctrine, an ideology or a theory. It was a French philosophical movement founded and led by the French sociologist Alain Caillé.
“Convivialism is the name given to all past or existing doctrines, secular or religious, which contribute to the search for principles that promote human cooperation and progress, in full awareness of the finite nature of natural resources and with a shared concern and care for the world. The philosophy of conviviality, the art of living together, is not a new doctrine claiming to cancel or surpass previous doctrines, but one which complements and enriches them.”
“Human ethics and responsibility, as well as psycho-social well-being, depend on social coherence derived from complementary actions and roles in society. The creation of a ‘complete’ citizen of the world, one embracing complementarity, will trigger the emergence of solidarity and a ‘convivial society.’ This will unite the individual and collective consciousness, creating a fully participatory and engaged citizenry. “
Adana Mam Legros
A so-called academic education gives children only some of the tools necessary for their future professional lives, a rough theoretical understanding of the world as well as some abstract knowledge of life.
On the contrary, parenthood goes far beyond this. Parenthood is a transcendental gift of lifelong knowledge and experiences transferred to the offspring consciously or unconsciously. It is a genetic, cultural and emotional inheritance which is sometimes poisoned if no capacity for self-reflection is transmitted to the child, risking the repetition of toxic patterns and behaviors. Here lies the importance of self-awareness, of one's own past, one’s psyche, one's traumas as a parent but also as an individual (and as an engaged citizen.) Parents must find the ultimate courage to be vulnerable, to completely and entirely open up towards their children. Express and share your whole life story, your happiness and suffering, your traumas and quarrels, struggles and fights, your solitude and rejections
Femininity & Masculinity
“Each male has a female component, and each female has a male component’’.
psychiatrist and psychoanalyst
“In modern Western civilization, men are discouraged from living their feminine side and women from expressing masculine tendencies. Together with the prevailing patriarchal culture of Western civilization this has led to the devaluation of feminine qualities altogether, and the predominance of the persona (the mask we wear towards others) has elevated insincerity to a way of life which goes unquestioned by millions in their everyday life.”
Researcher for The University of Mancheste
“According to Jung, we all have, at the psychic level, a certain bisexuality - which does not mean, of course, that we are all bisexual. The fact remains that there is for him a form of universal psychic androgyny [...] Jung demonstrates that, without the deployment of a striking, energizing and reconciling feminine symbolism, our societies march towards war and violence.”
Empathy and Compassion
“In our modern industrial societies, the ego becomes an instrument of manipulation. We took the principle of competition as the engine of our Western society -- you have to be better than the other, you have to be on top of the other.”
For the “I” to exist, the gaze of the Other is needed. Our being is always inter-being. The individualism and consumerism woven into our social fabric traps our modern existence into an egoistical bubble.
The obsession with ourselves creates a cycle of chronic suffering and apathy to others. Empathy is an innate capability, but can only be developed if the environment allows it.
Adana Mam Legros
“Empathy is to feel what others are experiencing with a kind of resonance with them. When we meet someone filled with joy, we also experience joy. The same applies to suffering…Experientially, these empathic feelings are similar to real joy and real suffering. Altruistic love, according to Buddhism, is an attitude that consists of wishing others to be happy and find the true causes for happiness. Compassion is defined as the desire to put an end to the suffering of others and the causes of that suffering.”
Writer and Buddhist monk
A harmonious, respectful society can only be “convivial.” In the long run, it cannot be individualistic — this would be an oxymoron. A society is, by definition, a group of people living together harmoniously, under common laws, striving for a shared evolution, resembling nature and its holistic symbiosis. An empathetic society is the solution to our falling civilization.
Adana Mam Legros
This inheritance allows children to build themselves as individuals and establish the basic foundations of their conscience for their future participation in society as citizens. Parents have a “parental duty” to participate in the building of a resilient psychological foundation for the child to build upon through life whilst they engage with society.
The child of the future will be able to navigate through life’s challenges, its ups and downs, being able to fall and rise again, embrace his or her own existence, past, present and future, the cycle of life and death itself.
Integrating this process, the child will be liberated and become a fully independent individual, free from the chains of the previous generation.
Parents should accompany this newly formed individual in the search for passions, dreams and life projects. This is the path that will lead to understanding the meaning of life.
The awakening of sensuality
The sexual liberation/revolution began in the 1960s. In many societies, open discussions about sexual pleasure and sensuality are as taboo as the subject of death. However, these are the most natural impulses of any living being. Nowadays, these concepts of sex have been used and abused, perverted and commodified by our modern society, made vulgar and turned into yet another product.
We, the youth, are at a loss trying to navigate these confusing messages from society. Religions and cultures have been barriers to our understanding of what is the body, love, care, kindness. All these are the foundation of what make us human.
Accepting one’s body leads to self-knowledge and fulfilment, not in an individualistic perspective but as shared vulnerability and intimacy. This requires the appreciation of oneself and therefore of the Other. To be aware, to be sensitive and to listen. We should practice the art of being present, using the sensations of the body as a door to spiritual awakenings.
The mythological figure of Apsara, the ubiquitous presence of Shiva lingams in Angkorian culture, can become an inspiration to bring back a sexual liberation to our youth, a healthier relationship to one’s body and a deeper of connection.
Adana Mam Legros
Facing the current psychological, social and environmental chaos in our civilization, there is a fundamental need to transform this hope into an existential movement. One that combines aspirations and the will to act, engaging with the fact that everyone has a role in society. Complementarity is finding how you can complement others to move towards an absolute symbiotic society. From the whole range of possibilities, what do you choose to do?
From the ocean of possible selves, what do you want to be? What are you willing to become?
Convivialism is about how we can all live together. What can I do to fulfil your potential, what can you do to fulfil mine? In the end, it's all about the direction we take as a whole. No map, no traced paths, just an immense and unexplored world of futures that we can turn into reality. We drive together. So, at the crossroads of the present, which way do you choose? And, most importantly, how will you act?
Adana Mam Legros
“To be vulnerable, in this sense, does not mean to be weak, nor to be a victim or a prey, but to be open to communication in the depths of human exchange. Real courage, advocates the embodied partisan of the argue approach, is the willingness to expose ourselves - with our flaws and everything else - to another person. To put in his or her hands the most intimate details of our life. To be vulnerable is to trust our fellow human beings. Trust is the belief that others will treat us as an end and not as a means, that they will not use or manipulate us for their convenience, but will see us as a being of value. When we are treated by others as an end, not as a means, we really become free. No one can be truly free in a world where everyone is suspicious of everyone. It is a world where freedom is immediately reduced has a negative meaning: the possibility of being cut off from others and being an island. Authoritarian societies that spread paranoia and mistrust and put people against each other crush the very spirit of freedom.”
American economic and social theorist, writer, and activist
If a child is supported, loved and encouraged by the parents, no longer will there be fear, nor unconscious projections brought about by an unhealthy upbringing. Humility and empathy will emerge, a sense of responsibility and ethics will be crafted. This future citizen will use self-awareness as a tool to build a higher collective consciousness. This evolution is what makes us fully human, the most important imprint we can have on life and on this planet.
Pandora’s Box: The pursuit of change
Ageing, disease, misery, wars and other ills that overwhelmed humankind are buried deep down in Pandora's Box. These are the inherent truths of life, avoiding them is not a solution. Being able to confront and overcome them leads us to a more complete existence.
We have to choose the path of resilience. As Boris Cyrulnik says, "Resilience is knowing how to navigate through torrents." Therefore, we must have the courage to face what life has to offer us.
In mythology, after all the evils have escaped from Pandora’s Box, what remains is hope. But what exactly is hope, if not passively waiting for a resolution? A numbness to life that erodes our capacity to act?