PM wants more Khmer-style art

Mom Kunthear / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Mr. Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany with artists. The prime minister encouraged the development of local art. Supplied

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday urged Cambodian artists to include elements of national identity in their work to ensure they are not threatened with intellectual property rights lawsuits from international artists.
In a statement in conjunction with the 19th National Culture Day, the premier said that artists risked legal action from artists abroad if they lifted the works of others, and he suggested including Cambodian elements as a means to avoid that.
“Khmer art has always been progressing, but every progression must be equipped with a national identity and this includes people who are artists and those who perform at any concert with their dance troupe,” he said.
“If those dance troupes do not show their national identity when choreographing a dance, they would maybe be charged or receive a complaint from foreign countries for copying intellectual property.”
He also encouraged the development of local forms of art instead of copying foreign ones, adding that the latter would bring “shame” to Cambodia.
“Cambodian people are capable of innovation in new Khmer forms and styles. Therefore, efforts should be made to spread it more, especially in creating new, original works which are our own and to avoid piracy from abroad which would bring shame to the national prestige,” he said.
Khmer Artist Association president Sos Mach said that artists too were working on preserving the country’s national identity in a bid to ensure that foreign art forms did not surpass local ones.
“This is not only an issue of concern for the prime minister,” he said.
“I am also concerned about the loss of Cambodian works if everyone keeps creating something that follows that of foreigners.”
He drew an example from that of Khmer traditional dances including the Rom Bong and Saravanan, which are almost exclusively performed during cultural holidays such as Pchum Ben and Khmer New Year.
It is this infrequent portrayal of such art forms that has resulted in Cambodia losing a part of its national identity.
Mr. Mach expressed his support for the prime minister’s suggestions and noted that it did not mean he was against the creation of something new based on works from abroad.
He also requested that the government clearly define what the Khmer cultural identity is so that artists can easily incorporate it in their work.

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