News / Arts & Entertainment

    Cambodia's Trauma, Rebirth Reflected in Khmer Sculptor's Work

    Cambodia's Trauma, Rebirth Reflected in Khmer Sculptor's Work at Meti
    X
    April 26, 2013 11:52 AM
    In the 1970s, the Khmer Rouge murdered some two million Cambodians and sacked the country’s cultural treasure, attempting to exterminate all art, knowledge and religion. The struggle by Cambodians to recover from that terror is embodied in the revival of the arts in that nation. Sculptor Sopheap Pich is one among many Cambodian artists whose work has flowered in recent years. Carolyn Weaver report.
    Carolyn Weaver
    In the 1970s, the Khmer Rouge murdered some two million Cambodians and sacked the country’s cultural treasure, attempting to exterminate all art, knowledge and religion.

    The struggle by Cambodians to recover from that terror, and to recover some of what was lost, is embodied in the revival of the arts in that nation. Sculptor Sopheap Pich, whose work is currently on view in a solo show at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, is one among many Cambodian artists whose work has flowered in recent years.

    Pich was 13 when he arrived in the United States, a refugee. Not quite three decades later, his show at the Met is a highlight of a city-wide Season of Cambodia festival, which also includes music, painting, film, dance, puppetry and other arts. After finishing his education in the U.S., Pich returned to Cambodia in 2002 to make his way as an artist. 

    In his studio near Phnom Penh, he began creating sculptures out of humble, local materials: the bamboo and rattan that grows all around, and that is usually used in furniture and crafts - not fine art. He was drawn to it by its simplicity and plainness.

    “What it gave me was freedom,” Pich said in an interview at his Met show. “I didn’t have to worry about color. I didn’t have to worry about art history. I didn’t have to worry about sculpture, even, because it’s just a whole new territory.”

    He works with assistants who cut and cure the bamboo and rattan, shave it into ribbons and help weave and tie it in place. Some pieces are embellished with bits of burlap from used rice bags and colored with paint made from clay, beeswax, tree resin and charcoal. There are dark, abacus-like grids, abstractions of equally dark history.

    Many of the works are simultaneously massive and light, organically sensuous and ethereal. One of the most striking is a huge, bell-like flower in rattan, “Morning Glory,” whose sinuous tendrils extend nine meters.

    Pich says it is an “almost reverential” imagining of the weedy plant that was a staple for hungry Cambodians during Khmer Rouge rule. “I often wonder why we still eat it,” he said. “Because - it reminds us, I suppose not so much of sadness anymore, but certainly when you think of morning glory, you never forget that time."

    Pich has made several Buddha figures, semi-transparent and ghostly in their open-work weave. You can see through one placed in a field, to the landscape of Cambodia. Another hangs at the Met, its head and shoulders complete, but the strands of rattan unraveling below. The ends are dipped in red. This Buddha was inspired by a ruined temple near where Pich’s family lived for a time after the Khmer Rouge regime fell.

    “I would visit the temple, but it was very dark, and obviously the temple grounds all broken and the sculpture broken,” he said. Inside the main hall, “I found a lot of broken Buddha sculpture, also bloodstains on walls and floors, like sprinkled with blood. And that memory never left me, and no one ever gave me an answer, I guess because I was too young to know.”

    Pich’s sculptures are also part of a dance-drama by choreographer Sophiline Cheam Shapiro that was performed in New York as part of the Season of Cambodia festival. “A Bend in the River” is based on a Cambodian folk tale about a girl whose family is eaten by a crocodile, who becomes a revenge-seeking crocodile herself. In the dance, Pich’s rattan “crocodiles” come together and are torn apart - like the girl herself, and like the story of Cambodia in the time of the killing fields.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Take It From The Top: Stanley Jordani
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    May 17, 2016 5:01 PM
    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously. He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously.  He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

     

     

     

     

    Blogs