Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants, ARTogether, and Prumsodun Ok

Lim Sokchanlina

“A Deepest Blue” uses a founding myth common to Cambodia and Japan to contemplate humanity’s relationship with and responsibility to our threatened oceans and the natural world.

The Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants and ARTogether, two Bay Area nonprofits with a shared commitment to healing the traumas of communities displaced by war and conflict, are partnering to commission Prumsodun Ok to create “A Deepest Blue.” The new work imagines a young artist learning to swim in the depths of the ocean, using the artist’s journey to meditate on humanity’s fragile relationship to our waters and oceans. Trained in the Khmer classical dance style nearly wiped out by genocide, Cambodian-American Prumsodun Ok draws further from his experience in experimental filmmaking, photography, poetry, and sound to create art that is at once grounded in ancient tradition and strikingly contemporary.

“A Deepest Blue” is inspired by the stories of “Preah Thaong Neang Neak” and “Toyotama-hime and Yamasachi-hiko”, in which a human prince descends to the bottom of the ocean to marry a dragon princess, as well as research Ok conducted during a trip to Koyasan, a sacred center of Shingon Buddhism in Japan. During the trip, Ok nurtured a friendship with the Venerable Nuiya Toshiya, a Buddhist monk who will contribute drumming and chanting, along with visual elements, such as calligraphy. Ota Yutaka, a ryuteki (dragon flute) specialist will compose music in the Japanese classical gagaku tradition and lead two other gagaku musicians in performance for the piece.

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