Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, purportedly said, “One can never be too rich or too thin.” In contemporary Cambodia, the wealthy elites would say, “One can never be too conspicuously rich or too fat.” This talk examines how a change in political regime after the Khmer Rouge genocide and revolution (1975-1979) contributed to a shift in what Arjun Appadurai has called, “regimes of value” in terms of aesthetics, taste, material culture and social class (The Social Life of Things). Moreover, it seeks to understand how the Cambodian nouveaux riches display their power and money through their villas, plastic curtains, heavy wooden furniture, colorful fashion, and Lexus cars.
Boreth Ly is Associate Professor of Southeast Asian Visual Culture in the History of Art and Visual Culture Department at UC Santa Cruz.
Image caption: Boreth Ly, "Interior of Hotel Classy, Battambang, Cambodia, 2016.”
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