Neak Sophal from Leaf Series
Meet the resilient people creating contemporary arts & culture.
One article at a time, we are building a magazine that will introduce you to the artists, galleries, writers, dancers, filmmakers, musicians, and spaces that are re-imagining a new Cambodia. Selpak Kandia translates as “termite art.” It will take “many, many” to build the art and culture community of which young Khmers dream – just as it takes “many, many” termites to build a nest.
We are more than just our ancient temples and dark past.
Let us share with you who we are.
Who is Liberating the Culture?
There is something encouraging going on in Cambodia. In 1980, a mere nanosecond ago in history, the nation was in complete wreckage from America’s bombing during the Vietnam War and the annihilation of its people by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. Cambodia now welcomes millions of visitors a year, attracted by the many temples and the vivid and unique arts that it is creating.
Agents of Change
Here, the agents of social reflection tend to be brave young people and those that bonded in their youth in the refugee camps who have become musicians, artists, historians, dancers, teachers, and leaders. They have been assisted and encouraged by many of the barongs (foreigners) who call Cambodia their home.
Collectors, curators, and international eyes are now on Cambodia’s growing cultural scene and more visitors are coming to discover new artists, music, special spaces, and performers.
She sits nimbly on the floor, robed in blue, her color of choice for the last several years. Khchao Touch is an artist in Battambang and she and her husband, Darren Swallow, have been deeply entwined in the Cambodian art scene for years. Touch (pronounced ‘Toi’)...
It is near impossible to understand present-day Cambodia or its arts without learning about Arn Chorn Pond and his flute. His endeavors and collaborations are everywhere and they share unpretentious forgiveness, optimism, authenticity, and joy through the Cambodian...
Come Back Brighter celebrates Cambodia’s arts scene and narrates the country’s journey from the swinging sixties to the present day through the use of dance and archive footage. Phnom Penh Post heralded it as "Nothing short of an astonishing and moving experience for...
We are more than our ancient temples & dark past.
“Art is not able to change the world, but art can show the future and the past. We had to come back and deal with identity. You can’t rebuild a country without rebuilding identity.” – Filmmaker Rithy Pahn, whose engrossing and mournful film about his family under the Khmer Rouge entitled The Missing Picture was nominated for an Oscar in 2015.
History, heritage, and hindsight are powerful teachers.
This is what our stories are about. Cambodia is magical, and it is re-imagining itself. We will welcome you when you come.
Images Top to Bottom: New Cambodian Artists (NCA) and Ka-Lai Chan from MANAVA.
Magical Cambodia – a cultural rebirth is a project by the Living Arts Corporation, a non-profit organization supporting the arts. It is edited by Jinx Davis.
In everything we do, we try to connect. The arts help shape personal and global culture. They provide clues to tackle challenges and engage in improving the state of the world, whether in a small neighborhood or on a grand scale. We trust in the potential of experience to elicit more empathy, birth new ideas, shift our perceptions and lead to action. We understand that the role of art is to make discomfort more comfortable.
We tell the stories of the people who are exploring themselves and their culture. The bold stories of street artists, performers, artists, spaces, journalists, writers, photographers, businesses and social enterprises – all creating a conversation about what Cambodia can be. The stories that bring understanding, promise, and encouragement. The stories that tell visitors what to look for beyond the ancient temples.
Cambodia is rich with vibrant art & performance.
The arts are healing a nation and offering new visions of possibilities.
It is language and its twin – the arts – that build voices that can both speak and hear, acknowledge and respond, and ultimately connect. A culture that emerges from a violent past must both account for the past and create a future.
From left to right: Theam’s Gallery, Photo by Phirom Styles, Painting by Chakrim Mil, Painting by Chan Phoun, Painting by Nak Noy, Lotus Art by Morrison Polkinghorne, Street Art by Romcheik 5 Collective, and painting by Channy Chhoeum.
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