Sleuk Rith Contemporary Art Gallery
The Sleuk Rith Contemporary Art Gallery of the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam), housed inside the National Institute of Education, aims to encourage learning about the history and legacy of the Khmer Rouge and Cambodia’s arts and culture through temporary exhibitions, weekly documentary film screenings, and a public speaker series. Additionally, it contributes to the promotion and support of Cambodian artists by providing free space inside this century-old colonial building in which to exhibit their artwork. The main audience for this gallery consists of pre-service high school teachers, who have traveled from every part of Cambodia to Phnom Penh, the country’s capital, to receive pedagogical training, students of Aknuwat High School, and the general public.
The Khmer Rouge regime, in power in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, separated family members from one another and banned schools, the use of money, religious and other cultural practices, and even individual expression of any kind. Almost the entire population was forced to labor in the countryside as farmers or constructing dams and canals.
Ultimately, approximately 1.7 million Cambodians died from overwork, starvation, disease or execution, and the country’s social structure, infrastructure and identity were completely shattered. When the Khmer Rouge regime collapsed in 1979, Cambodians were faced with the monumental task of rebuilding their country.
After more than three decades of restoration and rejuvenation, there is much to celebrate, while much remains to be done. The devastation was enormous, as traditional cultural knowledge held by those who perished disappeared with them, and as family and community ties were upended. Cambodia continues, to this day, to strive to recover and to move forward constructively.
The Sleuk Rith Contemporary Art Gallery of the Documentation Center of Cambodia contributes to this process by embracing both Cambodia’s cultural heritage and artistic innovation as sources of healing and reconciliation, linking the past, present and future in recognition of the art’ power to soothe, educate and inspire.