An artistic celebration of Khmer-style music and dance is the theme for the exhibition opening this Friday at Constable Gallery at Large, part of an exceptional Siem Reap weekend of music, dance and puppetry.
Featuring the work of 12 different artists and photographers, The Art of Music and Dance focuses on the talents who have animated Cambodia’s cultural world for decades, even in difficult circumstances.
Among the work presented, Sharon May’s collection of photographs, Evacuation Site II, capture a fascinating slice of life inside the refugee camps set up along the Thai border in the early 1980s, where thousands of Cambodians took shelter from first the Khmer Rouge and later from the ongoing conflict in the Kingdom.
May sneaked a 50mm camera into the camps with which she was enraptured.
“Nearly every day I watched the young Site II dancers practise on a blue United Nations tarp under a thatched roof, while musicians played traditional instruments,” she said.
“I was mesmerised by the beauty and precision of the dancers’ movements and the keening music. Ninety percent of Cambodia’s arists perished during the war and its aftermath. The few surviving masters in the camp sought to pass on a vanishing repertoire, in some cases breaking tradition in order to carry on tradition for example, by teaching girls to play instruments.”