The cultural festival Season of Cambodia introduces New York City to the ancient arts of a Southeast Asian kingdom and to its contemporary artists working in visual arts, dance, theater and performance art. This April and May, you can get a taste of Cambodia in more than 30 favorite cultural spots around the city, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to Le Poisson Rouge.
The Kingdom of Cambodia is known for the greatest architectural wonder of Southeast Asia—the temples of Angkor Wat—and for one of the most horrific periods of civil war and genocide in modern times, the five-year reign of the Khmer Rouge (1974-79) during which nearly a quarter of the population perished. Nearly 90 percent of the country’s artists and intellectuals were purposefully persecuted and killed. Today, the country has less than two times the number of New York City residents and half the population is less than 25 years old.
The festival not only celebrates Cambodia’s art with exhibits and performances, but using talks and symposiums, examines the role art and culture plays in the social, economic and emotional rebuilding of a post-conflict nation. The festival’s leading artists include visual artist Sopheap Pich, composers Him Sophy and Chinary Ung, choreographer Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, Amrita Performing Arts and the Royal Ballet of Cambodia.
Traditional elements of Cambodian art include dancing deities, Buddhist tales and mythological Hindu accounts of wars and creation, and will be brought to life in venues across New York City in the form of installations, puppet theater and performances.
Season of Cambodia is an initiative of Cambodian Living Arts, an NGO based in Pehnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Presenting partners include museums, performing arts centers and universities of New York City.