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Virtual Memorial Project (Meta House, Cambodia)

Since January 2019, the “Virtual Memorial” project provides an interactive online multi-media platform that educates future generations and memorializes the mass atrocities committed under Khmer Rouge ruling. The project provides Cambodian youth with access to video testimonials of Khmer Rouge survivors, as well as relevant documentaries, photos, paintings, and archival documents. This window into the past is vital in shaping the upcoming generations’ perceptions of historical events as well as their hopes for the future.

Meta House, Cambodia’s first independent arts, media and communication center, is spearheading this project under the umbrella of the international NGO, Cambodian-German Cultural Organization (KDKG). “Virtual Memorial” is supported by the German “Institute for Foreign Relations” (Institut fuer Auslandsbeziehungen/IFA) through the ZIVIC fund (https://www.ifa.de/en/). The stories of Khmer Rouge survivors from all walks of life are documented and made accessible online.

Meta House / KDKG will continue to interview as many survivors as possible, in close cooperation with other NGOs and donors, in an attempt to create a complete holistic record. This complete record can then be viewed by future generations that otherwise would not have the opportunities to physically meet survivors and learn from their experiences.

 
VIRTUAL MEMORIAL INTERVIEWS


 

The Cambodian-German Cultural Center “Meta House Goethe-Center” was established in January 2007 in the capital Phnom Penh.


What once started as a small community center in a private house, has grown into an award-winning arts & media hub. In the course of the last decade, Meta House has won several accolades, from “Best Cambodian Art Space” to “South-East-Asia’s Top Arts NGO”.

Nicolaus Mesterharm, the founding director, was awarded the “Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany” in 2018.


In January 2007, German filmmaker Nico Mesterharm and his Cambodian team opened Phnom Penh's META HOUSE in association with the International Academy at the Free University of Berlin. Located in the heart of the city, Cambodia's first art/communication/media center is just a few minutes away from the riverside and Royal Palace.


Meta House is sole partner of the “Goethe-Institute” in Cambodia. “Goethe-Institut” (German) is the Federal Republic of Germany’s cultural institute, promoting the study of German language abroad and encouraging international cultural exchange. Together with its partner, Meta House actively supports Cambodian artists and students to promote the development of contemporary arts/media through local and international exhibitions, film screenings, workshops, community-based projects and exchange programs.


Meta House is a creative platform for meaningful public events, workshops and seminars by national and international NGOs with a strong focus on human rights and freedom of expression. Furthering expressive art forms is crucial to the development of any society, none more so than Cambodia where individuals are desperate for a voice.

Boasting more than 100 sq. metres of art exhibition space and an open-air media lounge on the rooftop overlooking Phnom Penh, the three storey gallery offers an excellent space for artists-in-residence and visiting artists to interact. META HOUSE actively supports Cambodian artists and promotes the development of contemporary art in Cambodia through local and international exhibitions, workshops, community-based projects, artist exchange programs and by fostering links with South East Asian and international universities, galleries, curators, non-governmental and governmental organizations.


META HOUSE has not only established itself as a meeting place for artists and art lovers, but also as an intercultural and interdisciplinary networking platform for Cambodian-based artists, Cambodian artists living overseas and their international colleagues.

We firmly believe that contemporary art is a marker of development. The growth of expressive art forms is crucial to the development of any society, none more so than Cambodia where individuals are desperate for a voice. META HOUSE fosters an environment of self-expression and "critical thinking" and promotes art awareness and criticism.


Since 2014, Meta House’s umbrella organization “Cambodian-German Cultural Association” (KDKG) is registered as an I-NGO with the “Ministry of Foreign Affairs” (MoFA) of the Kingdom of Cambodia and has signed Memorandums of Understanding with the “Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports” (MoEYS) and the “Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts” (MoCFA). The Berlin-based partner organization “Kambodschanisch-Deutsche Kulturgesellschaft” (KDKG e.V.) was registered a year earlier, in 2013. The German Foundation and the Cambodian entity share similar statutes and goals. KDKG e.V. advises the Cambodian I-NGO in terms of policies with a focus on intercultural dialogue between Germany and Cambodia, German funding possibilities, as well as facilitating volunteer exchange.


On Sunday 11 March, the Social and Labour Standards in the Textile and Garment Sector in Asia (SLSG) project of GIZ, together with the Worker’s Information Center, held a reception at the META House Cambodian-German Cultural Association to celebrate the opening of the photo exhibition “Life through our eyes – by Cambodian garment workers”. The exhibition is the result of a Participatory Photography Project, in which ten women working in the garment industry in Cambodia were shown by acclaimed photographer Andrea Diefenbach, how they can use photography as a tool for communication and advocacy.

Meta House understands the important issues in communities where we work long-term, what the government, companies and NGOs are doing and how partnerships can add value to that.


In the course of the last decade, our center has cooperated with a large number of organizations in and outside of Cambodia, such as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), European Union (EU) / European Commission, Institute for Foreign Relations (IFA); Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation (RLS), Heinrich-Boell-Foundation (HBF), Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FNS); Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung (FNS); Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Freie Universitaet Berlin (FU), Asia Pacific International Spirits and Wines Alliance (APISWA), Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI); Handicap International (HI), Save Cambodia’s Wildlife (SCW), Khmer Art Action (KAA), Youth for Peace (YfP). Our working relationships are based on trust, honesty and collaboration.


We’d like to thank the Goethe-Institut and the German Embassy for their on-going support. Our German head office receives consultation from the media group Krossover/International Academy Berlin. Meta House/KDKG is a member of the German Business Group (ADW) and the European Chamber of Commerce.

 

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