Reyum: welcoming institution for Cambodian culture

May 2007 -

Cambodia is a traumatised country. The consequences of the Red Khmer terror are still tangible and visible. Pol Pot's hard regime from 1975 until 1979 is estimated to have cost the lives of two million Cambodians. Among these 'enemies of the revolution' were many intellectuals and artists. What is more, the era of the killing fields saw the destruction of numerous art treasures. Thus the trauma is not only humanitarian: an entire culture was stripped bare.

Ingrid Muan (1964-2005) and Daravuth Ly decided to establish Reyum late in 1998 for that very reason. Initially, these idealistic teachers at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh used their institute as an exhibition space for contemporary visual art made by their colleagues. They subsequently developed Reyum into a renowned forum for research, documentation, management and promotion of both traditional and contemporary Cambodian art and culture.

Reyum places great store in education. By publishing and distributing books, for example, in the official national language, the Khmer. The institute hopes to contribute to the development of a reading culture in Cambodia. Reyum also has a school where socially challenged children learn to draw and paint, for reasons including stimulating the imagination, which is beneficial to any type of future work.

All of Reyum's expositions, performances, presentations and other activities are free of charge, as emphatically announced on the web site. Hospitality has primary focus: "Reyum offers a space of encounter for students, professors, townspeople and foreign visitors."