Made in Kampot! Khemera Obscura is a new ensemble that will premier a live show based on the vanishing villas of Kep. KO brings together Van Dance sisters Khen Vanthy, Vanturn, with Scottish dancer/choreographer Kathryn Spence, music by Mute Speaker, guitars by Julien Poulson and traditional Khmer instrumentation by Uon Sambo. Khemera Obscura will make its live debut with 2 special performances in Phnom Penh, Friday 30, Saturday 31 October – Halloween – and at KWRF 5-8 November.
Khemera Obscura aims to look at the vanishing villas of Kep. Kep is now Cambodia’s favourite seaside town. Khmer families flock there in the hundreds during any public holiday (and in Cambodia there are a lot of them!). The sea is clear and many islands lie of the coast here in the Gulf of Thailand.
Kep has always been a favourite place to most Cambodians, as well as a wealthy place with gorgeous resorts and wealthy inhabitants. It was once filled with luxurious villas, hidden into the jungle, where many a party would partake (imagine a Cambodian Gatsby style party!). Cambodia was once referred to as the ‘pearl of Asia’, and Kep was one of the places where this was celebrated.
However, Kep’s beauty and it’s success where also it’s downfall. It was because of this that Kep was one of the first places that the Khmer Rouge passed their destruction. The villas and their inhabitants were destroyed, and the ruins of them are still found scattered around the jungle today.
These vanishing villas, a step backwards in time to both the beauty, the aristocracy and to the destruction is the basis of the new collective’s piece. Khemera Obscura will look at these settings; what happened there and what is left of it today.
When dancing there, I felt trapped and angry. Just like so many of the inhabitants would have felt. Some were even collected by the Khmer Rouge and put on mass into a local petrol station where they were burnt to death. The piece however, looks at the vanishing eeriness as opposed to the mass destruction.
The collaboration between Khmer and Westerners proves very interesting and it is great to work with such a varied mix of skills, people and opinions. Together, we hope to create something wonderful. First performance coming soon!!!
What a beautiful set of atmospheric photographs. And interesting to understand the sad history.
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