Cambodian Living Arts, in collaboration with the Institut français du Cambodge (IFC), has launched its fourth cultural season, which will showcase traditional and contemporary art, modern literature and digital art. The events aim to promote a new generation of artists.
The fourth cultural season, titled “Your Kind, Our Kind”, will run every weekend from February to March at the IFC and several provincial locations.
“The main purpose of these events is to showcase the ability and talent of young artists. We want to highlight works of art that reflect current Cambodian society as well as fostering in-depth discussions and reflections between artists and those connected to the scene,” said Soy Chanborey, a representative of Curatorial Fellow and the curator of the cultural season.
He said it will feature a number of programmes, including four creative literary readings, three theatrical readings stemming from script writing courses, digital works and five theatrical performances, including contemporary and classical music and theatre.
Cambodian Living Arts, the IFC, and several artists and stakeholders, held a tribute to teachers event on January 19. The event – held at the IFC – was followed by a press conference.
In an ancestral homage ceremony, which is traditionally celebrated by traditional art groups before any formal performance, a mixed arts group performed a dedication to their teachers, according to their respective art forms.
Kim Socheat, an organ player from Epic Arts Cambodia, based in Kampot province, performed a short piece to honour his teachers.
“Six of our members composed and performed a piece called ‘Same, Same’ for 30 minutes. I have congenital polio, two of our members are deaf, and Soeun Bunthoeun, who has cerebral palsy, is lead dancer,” the wheelchair-bound musician told The Post.
Two young women gave a unique performance, captivating the audience with their reading and earning rapturous applause.
“We performed during our dedication to the teachers by reading an excerpt from a piece of foreign literature. Because of the short time frame that was available, our leader, Kb Saadi, combined a few performances,” said actress Dy Alisha, one of the two.
“On this occasion, we just sat and read the script. Ordinarily, we would mix it up with other performances,” the young woman from The Acting Academy told The Post.
Saadi said his 16-student team would add more performances to the piece during the cultural season.
Nam Narim, coordinator of the Classical Artists Group and deputy director of the Department of Arts and Performing Arts of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said she would lead a classical theatre troupe named after the location were the troupe is based, the Kien Svay Krao pagoda.
“There is only one form of theater that we can say for sure is unique to the Kingdom. This form of drama has been around for a long time, although its origins are not completely clear,” she added.
Narim said the season would provide an opportunity for artists, both formal and informal, to show their work. This would contribute to the revival of ancient Khmer art forms.
In addition to performing at the IFC in Phnom Penh, the shows will travel to four provinces, in a bid to bring the art to the community.
Thorn Seyma, one of the organisers of the touring artists, said that the festival wanted to enable people in the community to see new works of art, as well as gain knowledge of each form. This year’s works will provide commentary on the current social reality.
She added that the 2022 programme had about 8,000 participants – not just performers, but also specialist speakers. Last year, events were held in Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Thom and Siem Reap provinces.
“This year, we will tour 12 locations in Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear, Kampong Chhnang and Pailin,” Seyma said.
The Cultural Season programme is specially designed for young artists, and popular actress Oeun Roza, a representative of the Reek Sai youth group and an ambassador for the programme, is also promoting the event and encouraging more youth participation.
“Our vision is to encourage creative artists and present their work to a new audience,” said Roza.
“Young people should be more involved in classical art. Older artists have worked so hard to learn them and keep these uniquely Khmer cultural treasures alive, that it would be tragedy for the Kingdom if they were lost,” she added.
The first work to be performed as part of this year’s season will be by the Kien Svay Krao Classical Theatre Troupe. They will appear at the IFC on February 3 and 4.