Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Experimental arts and music

The first phase of a new new cultural development project in Cambodia, called Neak Ta, will be to work with Khmer artists to foster and develop a tradition of experimental music and civic-oriented art in Phnom Penh. With most funding these days almost entirely directed towards the recovery of endangered traditional artforms - dance, sculpture and classical music - there are very few opportunities to explore connections between traditional culture and more experimental approaches to art and creativity. The organizers behind Neak Ta believe there's a huge opportunity to expand musical experiences beyond traditional forms into improvisational and electronic musics. And to explore young Cambodian's notions of their past, present and future through participatory, community-based artworks and media.

Over a six week period they'll run a series of workshops with the Royal University of Fine Arts, Cambodian Living Arts and Java Arts Cafe here in Phnom Penh, working with local musicians and artists to develop a series of public arts events. The entire process will culminate in a series of performances and public art, which will be recorded and photographed. These materials will be used at the end of the project to create a series of documentary pieces - including a commercially available CD release and photographic exhibition. With resources in short supply, the project needs support to help purchase equipment vital for the project. A laptop and music software for the local musicians to use. A materials budget to help the students to realise their art projects. This money is crucial - even though the institutions they are dealing with are influential within the city, funds are stretched for basic university courses, let alone a project like this. You can find out more and contribute here.



Anonymous Mike Krause said...

Great concept! Having been a huge fan of the Classical arts of Cambodia for a little while I've also felt that more of a bridge could be built between them and more modern influences, especially in the realms of dance & music. The older classical forms provide the indispensable 'standard' while the newer manifestations/tangents reveal their own equally relevant stories.

A lot of the pre-KR era pop music also bridged that gap and also included/retained many of the much more traditional Cambodian sounds: Auw Pleang Euy (Pan Ron), Phlae Leung But Snae (Ros Serey Sothea) or Acura Srey Ja (Sin Sisamouth) stand out as a fave examples in that regard. Fusing that element with the pop, jazz, latin & R&R influences of the time led to theirs being the richest (IMO ;) flowering of musical innovation in SE Asia prior to the civil war/KR period. Great to hear about this Andy and thanks for mentioning it.

March 25, 2010 at 11:40 AM  

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