Hip Hop Apsara

“Breathtakingly original and effective.” —Largehearted Boy

The city of Phnom Penh offers public dance lessons on a newly revitalized riverfront directly in front of prime minister Hun Sen’s urban home. Every night before dusk, much of the city gathers to bust a few Apsara moves and rehearse a few choreographed hip hop dances learned from a slew of attractive young men at the head of each group. Following on the heels of Cambodian Grrrl: Self- Publishing in Phnom Penh, Anne Elizabeth Moore compiled photographs that document Phnom Penh’s bustling nightlife and thus form a portrait of a nation’s emerging middle class. A series of essays complement the imagery, investigating the relationship between public and private space, mourning and memory, tradition and economic development.

Listen to a different kind of ghost story from the book on Radio K’s “Culture Queue,” or read a brand-new essay, “Thoughts on the Hip Hop Apsara,” and see preview images from the book on The Rumpus. The first edition of Hip Hop Apsara was published in a series of 500 with two-process, hand-printed covers by Angee Lennard. This program partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency. From Green Lantern Press.

“The images are in the school of vérité, taken under conditions of natural light, sometimes with only a moment to try and capture a fleeting motion. But it is in some of those blurred photographs that the images come alive, as colors wrapped around bodies whirl and fly, and the fire in the act of dance becomes a visual cry for the beauty in the act of humanity in defiance of atrocity.” —Rain Taxi

“We make no bones about it; we think Anne is pretty bloody awesome. … Through Moore’s photography and essays, we glimpse the public dance lessons that are held nightly outside the Prime Minister’s house, the nation’s only all-girl rock group publicly challenging and questioning traditional gender roles and political policies (particularly interesting in light of the recent Pussy Riot trial in Russia) and the complexity of balancing tradition with economic development. I was struggling with how to write this review, to describe how the photographs and essays, the lyricism and rhythm of the writing and images all come together. I, figuratively, stopped struggling and started dancing. The passion in Moore’s work and the myriad stories and personal narratives that come from her commitment to giving voice to these communities make Hip Hop Apsara essential viewing/reading …. It is challenging and intelligent, inspiring and creative; it takes a country with such a densely documented, troubled past and presents something fresh and vital. … [G]iving in to the beat of Hip Hop Apsara is a rewarding experience well worth stepping outside your literary comfort zone for.” —For Books’ Sake

“Anne Elizabeth Moore’s Hip Hop Apsara: Ghosts Past and Present offers a crisp and often surprising portrait of modern Cambodia through photographs and prose. Moore calls the book a ‘visual essay,’ I think it breathtakingly original and effective.” —Largehearted Boy

Read the Rain Taxi review in entirety here, at the Lantern Daily.

Doug Henwood of the Left Business Observer and WBAI’s Behind the News did this interview for his radio show/podcast.

The Rumpus asked Anne about ghosts, sex, and responsible global citizenship in this piece.

Radio Dispatch, with the hilarious John and Molly Knefel, talked to Anne about the book and related ridiculousness.

Listen to (and read about) the Hip Hop Apsara Book Notes Playlist here.

Time Out Chicago ran a stunning profile of the book, and you should for sure read it.

The Chicago Sun-Times conducted this interview with Anne.

For Books’ Sake did a great interview.

Listen to Anne’s appearance on the Matthew Fillipowicz Show, which inspired the term “awksome”.

Anne was interview by Gapers Block’s Book Club.

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