Friday, December 31, 2010

Cambodian Artist Speaking Out

We offer this publication as a contribution to a culture of pluralistic and free public debate. Artists all over the world play a role in society beyond providing decorative or entertaining expressions of their creative skills. Their work reflects human social and political reality. And their art communicates this reflection to their audience. Art communicates truth.

What is true and right is often controversial. In restrictive political systems, putting forward the truth about “sensitive issues” - or challenging the powerful with it - is dangerous or illegal. Censorship and self censorship apply; the freedom of expression is restricted. Art is made beyond these restrictions. It must also be free from the compromise of taboo and social etiquette.

Psychologists teach us that speaking the truth builds trust between individuals and in a society at large. Trust in society is often called “social capital” because it is considered a resource for the success of the community. By addressing important human social and political matters in a truthful way, art promotes debates and helps to build trust and to strengthen society. KAS as a political organization supports art projects to promote pluralistic truth-seeking societies.

The Khmer Rouge were radical censors. In their aftermath shaped by “cold war”, civil strive, and post conflict conditions the freedom of expression in Cambodia has been affected. Public debate about the Khmer Rouge legacy has been subject to limitations. The artists presented here overcome these limitations with their art and by speaking out, as the title of this volume implies.

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