ABOUT THE PROGRAM
April 17, 1975 marked the fall of Phnom Penh and the beginning of Democratic Kampuchea. Led by the Khmer Rouge who endeavored to create an agrarian communist utopia, the regime imposed a harsh ideology on Cambodian society that resulted in nearly two million deaths and an almost complete annihilation of Cambodian heritage.
Throughout 2015, the Acts of Memory program will commemorate this day 40 years later; inviting public audiences and participants to reflect upon the damage of the Khmer Rouge period, while simultaneously encouraging explorations of identity, self-expression, and community collaboration. In particular, the program aims to engage young Cambodians on issues of memory through events and activities that seek to enhance historical understanding and to raise questions about how a society remembers to move past atrocity.
Bophana Center will unveil a special exhibition entitled "TRANSMISSIONS 2015", featuring oral histories of Khmer Rouge regime survivors as gathered by their younger generation relatives. Accompanying the oral histories will be an installation of objects and artifacts from the Khmer Rouge period, gathered with permission from the personal collections of survivors, and a miniature scene of the Khmer Rouge period as depicted in clay figures, taken from Mr. Panh’s Academy Award-nominated film The Missing Picture.
On Wednesday, 8 April, the Acts of Memory program launch commenced at 5:00pm at Bophana Center with a traditional Cambodian Buddhist ‘Bang Skol’ prayer ceremony to offer blessings to the spirits of those who died during the Khmer Rouge period, led by monks. Following the prayers, Cambodian Living Arts music students performed traditional ‘smot’ (funereal) chanting.
From 8 April - 31 May, Bophana Center will display the acclaimed visual art installation “Flowering Parachute Skirt”, a remarkable and challenging patchwork assemblage of textiles largely constituted by US-dropped bombing parachute from air raids in Cambodia between 1965-1973, by renowned visual artist Leang Seckon.
In June, Cambodian Living Arts will produce a contemporary dance program entitled "Jolana Jorngjam", featuring performances by Epic Arts, New Cambodian Artists, and PanDance at the Plae Pakaa stage of the National Museum in Phnom Penh from 5-7 June. As part of the "Jolana Jorng Jam" program, Amrita Performing Arts will lead a 3-day choreography lab between dancers of the participating companies and facilitate post-show discussions after each night's performance.
On 24 April, the Center for Khmer Studies in Siem Reap will host a special screening of The Missing Picture (in Khmer) and Q&A with filmmaker Rithy Panh. In September, Mr. Panh will curate a film program with special guests.
In October and November, conferences will be organized by Cambodian Living Arts on themes of youth development, arts, and resilience, with support from the Ford Foundation.