AI BUH LEEV EN YU/I BELIEVE IN YOU is an attempt to dissolve the objects, the idea, and the language of culture. By dissolving these things, we can gain a solution to questions of culture. Through an installation based on my experience with Cambodian-American dance spaces, the work questions the possibility of authenticity in hybrid cultures. In the installation, I am making a culture based on two existing ideas of culture—Cambodian and American—but I argue that when these two cultures meld together, the result isn’t Cambodian-American culture, because it is neither authentically Cambodian nor authentically American. The result is a hybrid culture. Hybrids cannot be authentic to any one thing.
The culture of the installation is a simulation of my culture (a hybrid culture.) I want the viewer to believe that they are experiencing “authentic Cambodian-American culture,” but then to realize that because all the objects are counterfeits, that idea of culture doesn’t exist. The audience is actually experiencing my culture in the installation, but it is not “Cambodian-American culture.” My culture is real and authentic to myself and others, but it is not authentic to “Cambodian-American culture.” However, the culture the installation creates is a real culture, even if it not authentic. A culture is real because we experience it as real.