ABOUT THIS PROJECT
THE VANDERBILT REPUBLIC specializes in the execution of monumental ideas.
As defined by CAMBODIAN LIVING ARTS, a “MASTER” is an expert practitioner of Cambodia's performing arts. Only those who were working professionals before the genocide years may carry the title.
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From 1975-1979, the Khmer Rouge enslaved, tortured and killed over 1.7 million Cambodians in one of the most lethal regimes in history. During these brutal years, Pol Pot and his totalitarian party sought to silence and eradicate Cambodia’s artistic class by systematically hunting and murdering 90 percent of the country’s performing artists. The Khmer Rouge had a motto for their victims: “To keep you is no benefit. To destroy you is no loss.”
Today, the “Masters,” artists who survived this grim chapter of Cambodian history, are harnessing their final days sharing their craft with a new generation of students. They work to preserve what the Khmer Rouge failed to completely destroy—their extraordinary music, their remarkable stories. Cambodian Living Arts, an organization whose mission is “to support the revival of traditional Khmer performing arts and to inspire contemporary artistic expression” has the powerful vision that “by the year 2020, Cambodia will experience a cultural renaissance so dynamic that the arts will become the country’s international signature.”
The Vanderbilt Republic recognizes the international significance of this vision and has assembled a unique group of American creatives fully equipped to help CLA realize their vision. We believe it time to properly document the lives of these individuals in a manner their stories deserve, and in an approach that honors and celebrates their significance in our world.
We will create a powerful photographic portrait archive of each Cambodian Master, their art forms, and the next generation of students. We'll create this iconography using a film-based, large-format photographic process and develop multimedia applications to communicate the beauty of this cultural renaissance, worldwide. What will transpire is a beautiful story about the arts renaissance in Cambodia today.
With your support, we can make this ambitious goal a reality—and give you a piece of history.