Explorations of the Second Memory: Cambodians Remember

When 12 Apr 2018
7:00PM - 9:00PM
Where CityLore
56 East 1st Street
New York, NY 10003
United States
From 1975 to 1979, the communist group known as the Khmer Rouge enacted radical political, social, and economic reform across Cambodia. The regime’s vision of an agrarian utopia led eventually to the widespread persecution of intellectuals, artists, and members of the middle class. Two million Cambodians died during the genocide. 90% of Cambodia’s artists perished.

Despite this narrative of trauma, there is also a narrative of survival and remembrance that transcends. In Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel’s memoir Night he writes, “For in the end, it is all about memory, its sources and magnitude, and, of course, its consequences.” Why is it important to remember this past? Who should remember it and how? Do the children of survivors of genocide remember it?

Join the Asian American Arts Alliance for a special commemorative arts event featuring a play reading, literary reading, and visual arts presentation by second-generation Cambodian American artists. In honor of Genocide Awareness Month, this event invites the public to reflect on how we can change the generational transmission of trauma into one of reconciliation and resistance. The event will follow with a panel discussion with the artists and a Q&A with the audience.

Panelists include poet Monica Sok, theater artist Vichet Chum, visual artist Peter Pa (Migra Spora), and poet and librettist Sokunthary Svay, moderated by Soriya Chum (Theatre for a New Audience).


Vichet Chum is a writer, actor, director & theater maker, originally from Dallas, Texas and now living in New York City. Regionally, he’s worked at Trinity Repertory Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Guthrie Theater, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, the Huntington Theatre Company, Everyman Theatre and New Harmony Theatre. In NYC, he’s worked at the Cherry Lane Theater, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, the Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row, Project Y Theatre, Woodshed Collective, Slant Theatre Project and the Incubator Arts Project. His plays have been workshopped at Second Generation Productions, Weston Playhouse, Cleveland Public Theatre, All For One Theater and Amios. Most recently, the world premiere of his play KNYUM had its world premiere at Merrimack Repertory Theatre at the beginning of 2018. He’s also a co-founder and resident member of the arts company The Group Lab (thegrouplab.com). Last, but certainly not least, he is a proud graduate of the University of Evansville (BFA) and Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company (MFA). vichetchum.com

Peter Pa, whose artist name is ‘Migra-Spora’, is a queer Cambodian-American multimedia artist that works in illustration, film, sculpture, and animation. With a BFA at Rhode Island School of Design, Peter’s work has been a part of exhibitions and screenings that include The Tribeca Film Institute, MoMA PS1, SFMoMA, The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, and USAID Global Development Lab. Peter’s mission is to uplift queer and migrant narratives that reconnect with nature in order to heal and reclaim identity and space. His work communicates issues queer and diasporic communities face such as intergenerational dynamics and wrestling with mental health. A creative journey to develop new ways to tell stories through combining different skills reflect Peter’s immigrant upbringing of resourcefulness and imagination. With an interdisciplinary mindset does Peter believe he can share some of the complexity of living as a queer and migrant person in a western hetero dominant society.

Monica Sok is the author of Year Zero (Poetry Society of America, 2016). She has received fellowships from Calabash/The Conversation Literary Festival, Elizabeth George Foundation, Hedgebrook, Jerome Foundation, Kundiman, MacDowell Colony, Montalvo Arts Center, NEA, Saltonstall Foundation, and others. Sok holds an MFA from New York University. Her poetry has appeared in Kenyon Review, Narrative Magazine, New Republic, POETRY Magazine, and Virginia Quarterly Review. Beginning this fall, she will be a Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University.

Sokunthary Svay was born in a refugee camp in Thailand shortly after her parents fled Cambodia after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime. They were sponsored to come to the United States and resettled in the Bronx where she grew up. She is currently poetry editor for Newtown Literary, the only literary journal for the borough of Queens, a founding member of the Cambodian American Literary Arts Association (CALAA), and the recent recipient of the American Opera Projects’ Composers and the Voice Fellowship for 2017-19, and the 2018 Emerging Poets Fellowship at Poets House. Her publication credits include Homelands: Women’s Journeys Across Race, Place and TimeFLESH, Prairie Schooner, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Perigee, and The Margins. Her first collection of poetry, Apsara in New York, is available from Willow Books. She is pursuing a PhD in English at the CUNY Graduate Center beginning fall 2018.

Photo courtesy of the organizer/s.

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