The Place of Performance” is a special issue of the peer-reviewed academic journal Stedelijk Studies, co-edited by Hendrik Folkerts (curator, documenta 14) and Sophie Berrebi (University of Amsterdam). It contains an essay from me available to read online here or as a PDF here.

My essay is about a 1959 dance performed in Phnom Penh, called the “Ballet of Khmero-American Friendship,” and also discusses some contemporary art from the region. Thank you to Hendrik Folkerts for inviting me to contribute (alongside such luminaries as Amelia Jones in this special issue). Thank you also to artists Anida Yoeu Ali, Tran Minh Duc and UuDam Nguyen for allowing your works to be reproduced.

A short exceprt:

“The Ballet of Khmero-American Friendship, like many other dances of its kind, most likely took place in the Royal Palace’s Chan Chhaya Pavilion. Open on three sides and located at the very edge of the grounds adjoining busy Sothearos Boulevard, the pavilion is the palace’s most public stage. It was here that the French had ordered the performance of French classical music at the conclusion of the Great War in 1918, and it was from here that, following President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Sihanouk would broadcast music and command his citizen-subjects to dance in the streets in enforced celebration.”


Image from the commemorative program of the “Ballet of Khmero-American Friendship,” 22 July 1959. Image source: National Archives of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. Box B-311.