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New exhibition boasts 'forgotten' Khmer art

New exhibition boasts 'forgotten' Khmer art

An exhibition showing the finest in 1950s and 1960s Khmer architecture and culture

begins December 8 at the Reyum Institute. The aim of the exhibition is to show the

young generation what their elders contributed to Khmer culture.

Ly Daravuth, co-director of Reyum, said the exhibition would comprise photographs,

documents, CDs and videos of modern Khmer art such as architecture, theater, films,

painting and music.

Daravuth said the Institute has spent months researching old documents, books, letters

and newspapers. Some documents had come from the national library, others from the

Buddhist Institute.

"The problem is that we are losing little by little our Khmer artistic and cultural

history," said Daravuth.

"When the older generation dies, nobody has compiled any documents about their

contribution to Cambodian architecture and culture for the next generation."

The exhibition starts Dec 8 with a discussion between well-known Cambodian artists

Vann Molyvann, Chheng Phon and Iev Vannaka. The three will talk about their thoughts

on Khmer architecture and culture in Cambodia's post-independence period.

"The exhibition is particularly aimed at school and university students as well

as the Cambodian people in general," said Daravuth. "It will make it easier

for them to understand Cambodia's history."

Seventy-five-year-old Vann Molyvann, an advisor to King Sihanouk, is a renowned architect

who designed some of the country's most important buildings. He said he will discuss

his work in the period 1950 to 1975, when Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge.

"I want all the children of the new generation to know more about the work of

Cambodians in past times," he said. He said that the country was short of architectural

and cultural experts between 1953 and 1970.

"At the time, there were very few architects," said Molyvann.

"During the French colonial period between 1863 and 1953, only a small number

of Khmer people received any advanced training in architecture and the arts. Now

Cambodian architecture and culture have developed considerably."

Daravuth also said that the Reyum Institute would launch a book January 2002 which

will classify Khmer culture between the fields of theater, modern music, cinema,

architecture and the written word. It will also include a brief history of the country

following independence. Other sections will include interviews from survivors of

the Khmer Rouge period such as Molyvann.

Daravuth expects a print run of between 2,000 and 3,000 copies of the 300 page book,

which will appear in Khmer with an English translation.

"This book will prove very important for our children and help them understand

the culture of the last generation," he said.

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