While certain structures of political and economic power arguably remained in place despite the transition from the socialist People’s Republic of Kampuchea to the democratic State of Cambodia, the UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority of Cambodia) period from 1992-1993 initiated a sea change in culture and society as the country began to experience processes of globalization and neoliberalism. This presentation discusses certain conditions that, it is argued set the stage for new forms of artistic expression, as contemporary artists in the country’s capitol have developed their practices against a backdrop comprising various factors set in motion by the transition. These include alternative sites for artistic formation, NGO culture and memory projects, rising clashes over land dispossessions, a growing urban heritage movement, the influence of returnee artists, and the introduction of photography as a new mode of creative critique.


'Contemporary Art in Cambodia: A Historical Inquiry' was a one-day academic symposium with renowned scholars, curators, and artists. Some have argued that Cambodia has emerged from a post-conflict society into an era of social, economic, and political transformation. This symposium focused on a dimension of its cultural transformation as it has been manifested in a burgeoning contemporary arts scene within the last decade. Through inquiries into broader artistic, cultural, and aesthetic practices, various scholars and arts practitioners spoke to historical trajectories of contemporary art practice in Cambodia and its positioning in narratives of art history. By building a critical dialogue that interrogates the way the field is being shaped, the symposium aims to strengthen the foundation for more thorough investigations into Cambodia’s recent art historical developments.

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Pamela N. COREY

Spoken language


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event photograph/recording

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Panel I: The Conditions for Contemporary Art in Post: Transition Cambodia