I'M LOOKING FOR WHAT TRADITIONAL ARTS SHARE AROUND THE WORLD.
Cambodia has been a nurturing place for me. There I learned what humility and simplicity really mean; I learnt that laughing is a language. Unlike many NGOs tend to describe it, Cambodia isn’t – only – the country of poor little slumber children. Orphanages, run like businesses, have grown like mushrooms in the country, since a context for peace arose and numbers of orphans started dramatically decreasing – but, for a Western or an Asian tourist, bringing back pictures of you posing with poor kids in a far away place has no price. Instead of victimized children – and here I don’t mean there’s no poverty – I have seen a very inspiring generation of young adults, who struggle to learn, to grow, to work, to help out families and friends, to discover and better understand the world. I met dynamic artists who cherish dreams of founding arts organizations and schools, of sharing knowledge with others in the world, of creating movies, music bands and theater plays.
I had worked in the art sector in France before coming to Cambodia. I had been inspired by artists in Europe. I had learnt that artists working with different art forms could have different understandings of art. But I then moved to Cambodia to work for almost 4 years in an art organization that works to develop sustainable opportunities for arts professionals in the country, while allowing traditional Art Masters to transmit their knowledge to younger generations, and encouraging creativity. I had the chance to meet many traditional artists and arts professionals across Cambodia. And there I realized how different conceptions of art – including traditional art – can be in different areas in the world. On a larger scale, I had the feeling that, in Europe, art was mostly a mean of an individual’s expression; while in Southeast Asia, art was something to be used, and used for the community. After visiting incredible artists in Myanmar, Indonesia and India, who struggled to protect their traditional art forms, I was interested to extend this exploration to other parts of the world, trying to understand how people actually come to the arts, what art means to them, and the future they envision for their art forms.
That is how this itinerant project started. And, because itinerant often means very polluting, we decided to combine this arts exploration travel with a more eco-friendly, sailing world trip. Starting from France, my husband David and I will be sailing across Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Places to be visited include Senegal, Cabo Verde, Colombia, Mexico, Cuba, Pacific islands, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, United States, Canada and other countries. As we interview traditional arts professionals in these countries, we will regularly upload interviews, video portraits and pictures to this website.
This project isn’t thought to be a professional reporter media, as we are working with materials and knowledge we were able to gather, but we hope this resource will be enjoyable and useful. Stay tuned, and feel free to contact us for any encouragement or support you might want to share.
MARION GOMMARD JOUAN